Top 10 NZ films

December 3rd, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Stories of murder, domestic violence, revenge and kidnapping have been named the best New Zealand movies ever made.

Online film industry showcase, NZ On Screen, has compiled a list of what it considers the 10 best New Zealand of all time.

The 10 films, made between 1981 and 2010, range from the grim, but powerful Once Were Warriors to Christchurch murder taleHeavenly Creatures. Even the two comedies on the list, Boy andGoodbye Pork Pie, have dark undertones of alienation, poverty and abuse.

NZ On Screen content director Irene Gardiner said the 10 films “are all quite dark”.

“I fear that this top 10 would tell people that we are dark. Hopefully, it would also tell people that we are good at making films on not very enormous budgets.

The top 10 are:

  1. Goodbye Pork Pie
  2. Smash Palace
  3. Utu
  4. Vigil
  5. The Piano
  6. Heavenly Creatures
  7. Once Were Warriors
  8. Whale Rider
  9. In My Father’s Den
  10. Boy

Seen nine of those. I did and do love Goodbye Pork Pie. Boy was excellent also.

Films that just missed out on being included in the top 10 were given “honourable mentions”. Those films are Don’t Let it Get You, Death Warmed Up, Footrot Flats, The World’s Fastest Indian, Came a Hot Friday, Rain, The Quiet Earth, Sleeping Dogs, Ngati, and Illustrious Energy.

Sleeping Dogs was also excellent.

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65 Responses to “Top 10 NZ films”

  1. GPT1 (2,043 comments) says:

    Good Bye Pork Pie is classic. Surprised The World’s Fastest Indian didn’t get a higher rating.

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  2. Bovver (133 comments) says:

    Who even saw In my Fathers Den, drop it and insert Sleeping Dog’s, fascist bully boy coppers and Skyhawk’s murdering a forest, kiwi as bro

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  3. Dave Stringer (182 comments) says:

    What happened to LOTR and the Hobbit?

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  4. Ryan Sproull (6,661 comments) says:

    Yeah, Sleeping Dogs and Perfect Strangers are up there for me.

    And Eagle vs Shark for laughs.

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  5. dime (8,786 comments) says:

    Peter Jackson didnt make the grade huh

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  6. ross69 (3,645 comments) says:

    What happened to LOTR and the Hobbit?

    Well, this is one person’s opinion. But given Peter Jackson’s treatment of workers and animals, he’s lucky to be on the list.

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  7. ross69 (3,645 comments) says:

    Having said that I did enjoy Braindead. :)

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  8. CHFR (195 comments) says:

    Evidence please Ross

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  9. Tom Jackson (2,262 comments) says:

    Mauri is better than any of those.

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  10. mandk (711 comments) says:

    ross69

    “But given Peter Jackson’s treatment of workers and animals, he’s lucky to be on the list.”

    Are you referring to the fact that Peter Jackson has created thousands of high paid jobs with his mate Richard Taylor?

    The stuff about animals was totally discredited.

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  11. J Bloggs (100 comments) says:

    Dime – Heavenly Creatures (#6) is one of Jackson’s

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  12. dime (8,786 comments) says:

    “Well, this is one person’s opinion. But given Peter Jackson’s treatment of workers and animals, he’s lucky to be on the list.”

    I agree! the prick was only paying extras 5 stacks a week! They had to stand around all day for a measly 5 grand a week. what a dick.

    Youre the worst kind of troll ross. I shouldnt have responded.

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  13. Frankie Lee (8 comments) says:

    I would have added Meet The Feebles to the honorable mentions myself, still hilarious after 20 odd years.

    Utu definately deserves its place, I saw the redux version over the weekend; it’s a masterpiece.

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  14. RightNow (6,348 comments) says:

    I’m guessing a lot of Jackson’s films don’t count as being strictly “NZ” films. I imagine Bad Taste counts though, and still one of my favourites even if just to spot old mates.

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  15. wikiriwhis business (3,302 comments) says:

    ‘Utu definately deserves its place, I saw the redux version over the weekend; it’s a masterpiece.’

    Can you tell me Utu had the scene of the woman diving off the huge waterfall and the man diving after her.

    I always believed that scene was in this movie. Unfortunately they never regarded this in the making of.

    Us Kiwi’s have a strong tendency towards trivialising. That scene was one of the greatrest scenes in NZ cinema and up with international film making.

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  16. radvad (620 comments) says:

    Some good movies listed but am surprised that my favourite NZ movie “Second Hand Wedding” does not feature.

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  17. David Garrett (5,151 comments) says:

    For me, Smash Palace is by far the standout – even though it featured Bruno Lawrence playing himself, as he almost always did. The final scene at the level crossing with the train approaching has got to be one of the all time greatest suspense scenes ever filmed…and the “camera on car” shots when Al is racing his car at Baypark make you feel you are in the car with him. Does anyone know what happened to Anna Jamieson, who played Al’s wife? It seems she disappeared without trace..even Mr Google has not heard of her…

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  18. jp_1983 (101 comments) says:

    What about ‘The Hollow Men’? /sarcasm

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  19. Frankie Lee (8 comments) says:

    “Can you tell me Utu had the scene of the woman diving off the huge waterfall and the man diving after her.”

    Yes, thats in there.

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  20. adamsmith1922 (879 comments) says:

    Have not seen Vigil, Boy, Once Were Warriors or Whale Rider.

    The Piano was horribly over rated and boring.

    Wanted to see Boy, felt from the reviews that Whale Rider was not a film I would have liked.

    Smash Palace was a great film, saw it in New York at a little cinema near the Plaza Hotel when it was first released. This film was well regarded outside of NZ.

    In My Father’s Den was excellent and superior to many films mentioned in the comments.

    The Piano was one film that should not have made the list.

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  21. Ashley Schaeffer (336 comments) says:

    I agree with Goodbye Pork Pie and Smash Palace being at the top of the list. I would have rounded off the top three with Sleeping Dogs and would have rated Once Were Warriors and Boy higher myself. For comedies, I really enjoyed Eagle vs Shark and Black Sheep, but they’re probably not top ten material.

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  22. SGA (546 comments) says:

    Top 10 NZ films at 11:00

    NZ On Screen content director Irene Gardiner said the 10 films “are all quite dark”.

    Hardly a new observation. Sam Neill titled his documentary of NZ films, “Cinema of Unease”

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  23. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    Wheres “The Scarecrow”…wheres “Bad taste”…? “Black Sheep”? “Carry me Back”?

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  24. MH (558 comments) says:

    The greatest NZ filum yet to be made would have to- We shall not cease- about james Baxter’s dad. the conflict between the loyal NZ soldier and the conchie,hauling him off to the front,the sympathy of the common private and the harsh discipline handed out.That filum would have to be a 5 star, better than Aissie’s Breaker Morant or the Lighthorse of that genre. Since rhe RSA has forgiven those executed in WWI it could at least pay half for it to be produced with the 100 yr commemoration coming up..

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  25. wikiriwhis business (3,302 comments) says:

    ‘“Black Sheep’

    Ws made by several brain dead druggies in a dilapidated flat who knew thousands of brain dead druggies would pay to see
    it. So did the suits who financed it. Cause they are disgusting.

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  26. kiwi in america (2,336 comments) says:

    I’m also surprised that “World’s Fastest Indian” didn’t make it as it was an excellent film and Hopkins did a good Southland accent. I loved “Boy” and reckon it deserved a higher ranking than 10th – it wasn’t the No 1 grossing New Zealand movie of all time for nothing. I never liked “Vigil” or “The Piano” but all the rest are great movies – especially when you consider how small NZ is.

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  27. wikiriwhis business (3,302 comments) says:

    ‘I loved “Boy” and reckon it deserved a higher ranking than 10th ‘

    Was it taken as serious film making though.

    I’m not sure if our script writing is fully dimensional. Too many relying on Kiwi cinematography

    Our scipt writing is not clever.

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  28. Elaycee (4,089 comments) says:

    @David Garrett: Anna Jemison (Anna Maria Monticelli) seems to be alive and well – but producing rather than acting these days. But in Smash Palace, she was hot
    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0600027/

    I recall the filming of the Smash Palace scenes at Baypark Raceway – the Ralt was actually driven by Steve Millen and the track commentator told everyone before the race started that he would be referring to Millen as ‘Al Shaw’ during the race… As it turned out, Millen won the race fair and square and after racing had finished for the day, several additional scenes were filmed in the pit area. Additional shots ‘in car’ were taken on the Friday before the race and during practice. IIRC, there was also a clip at the start of Smash Palace of Millen’s awful accident at Pukekohe when he tangled with Huub Rothengatter and barrel rolled. Nasty…

    I also remember another piece of Smash Palace trivia… when ‘Shaw’ was testing the race car on the road and was being chased by the cop, Millen told Donaldson that he was only going to speed into the gravel driveway at ‘Smash Palace’ once, so they needed to have a LOT of cameras ready…. the gravel driveway and the underside of the Ralt (even at max ride height) were not good companions. So ‘Take 1′ became the version that ended up in the can!

    It must be time for me to watch it again. :)

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  29. kiwi in america (2,336 comments) says:

    To the contrary wiki, “Boy” was such a success because of the script writing – a very uniquely kiwi movie that was genuinely funny. We showed it on the bus coming back from a rugby tournament here in the US the audience being American teenage boys and even with so much kiwi/Maori humour, they loved it!

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  30. wikiriwhis business (3,302 comments) says:

    Our scripting and plotting aren’t cerebreal. We simply don’t challenge minds.

    There’s always this visual journey the plot or scripting doesn’t keep up with.

    Probably a good example out of thousands would be Pan’s Labyrinth.

    A visual, scripted, plotted journey perhaps captured by on NZ film Perfect Creature which did stretch the bounds of NZ film creativity.

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  31. Fletch (5,727 comments) says:

    NZ On Screen content director Irene Gardiner said the 10 films “are all quite dark”.

    Yeh, NZ seems to have this fascination with “dark” movies. I’ve noticed this before. They don’t seem to make a lot of uplifting stuff. And most Kiwi directors first features seem to be zombie movies. Even the humour is dark and sarcastic.

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  32. Dazzaman (1,114 comments) says:

    Is Vigil the one where Frank Whittle is eating the widow woman out in a near full on porn scene? Anyway….Boy is plain dumb, played for cheap laughs.

    The movie where Sam Neill is killed by a nutter chopped up & put in a freezer on a remote island, while his woman is held captive by the nutter & becomes a bit of a nutter herself is a good one…..title for it anyone? Utu is the best, a great movie.

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  33. thedavincimode (6,133 comments) says:

    How can they ignore Rewi’s Last Stand??!!

    An epic. So good, they re-made it.

    Wankers.

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  34. Longknives (4,048 comments) says:

    What a dreadful ‘PC’ list.

    Boy in particular was a steaming turd of a film- Half the country worked themselves into a nationalistic frenzy and declared it the ‘greatest film ever’ simply because of the ‘impromptu’ haka at the end..the other half yawned and said “Christ not another haka..”

    The Piano is the filmgoers equivalent of Jane Campion hammering a rusty nail into your scrotum (and dragging it out for about three bloody hours)..

    Never seen Whale Rider but as it is responsible for inflicting that pontificating weirdo Keisha Activist-Hughes on us I think it deserves to be slammed..

    And so on..
    Brain Dead, Bad Taste and Meet the Feebles can consider themselves well and truly robbed.

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  35. MH (558 comments) says:

    don’t rubbish The Piano too much,I still take American tourists on dives off Karekare to try and find it.

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  36. wreck1080 (3,533 comments) says:

    the piano was crap.

    I suppose this list was compiled by a bunch of snobby film critics.

    No LOTR or hobbit — maybe , too ‘pop’.

    I wanna see a list in order of total revenue.

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  37. MH (558 comments) says:

    Awards: 1991 Welsh Bafta, Best Drama; 1992 NZ Film Awards, Best Screenplay, Best Performance in a supporting role (John Bach), Best film score.

    I think they are referring to the game NZ AB oldies vs The Leaks.

    what else but Old Scores – and with a Haka what more could the public want.

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  38. wikiriwhis business (3,302 comments) says:

    Blockbusters were crated to make revenue but the concept did not last.

    Let’s hope formula Hollywood film making dies as well.

    Live theatre is such a relief and joy.

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  39. bc (1,252 comments) says:

    Ye gods you’re a pleb, longknives (or maybe just a grumpy misery guts).
    I’ve never known someone to be so proud of their idiocy.

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  40. bc (1,252 comments) says:

    Anyway, I thought the top 10 list was near perfect. I don’t know if I would put “Utu” up so high but maybe the ranking refers to the redux (I haven’t seen the redux yet, but there seems to be general agreement that it has improved the film). I would put Utu just below “The Piano”.
    But apart from that minor quibble, the list of films and the order is spot on.

    Geoff Murphy has two films in there. I also liked another film of his,”The Quiet Earth” (one of the honourable mentions), but I wouldn’t want to remove any of the Top 10 to replace it with.

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  41. wikiriwhis business (3,302 comments) says:

    Utu was marvellous.

    I rmember though cringing when Te Whiti compared skin colour with a white after his family had been massacred.

    Could have easily have happened from another iwi as well.

    A violent people plagued with violence as if from karma.

    Let’s not forget the plight of the Mori Ori from Taranaki. Then Taranaki were plagued by the English.

    what goes around comes around.

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  42. Longknives (4,048 comments) says:

    “Ye gods you’re a pleb, longknives (or maybe just a grumpy misery guts).
    I’ve never known someone to be so proud of their idiocy.”

    Boy- You sound pretty worked up BC! Perhaps a googly eyed, throat slitting, tongue poking haka might work off some steam for you?

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  43. bc (1,252 comments) says:

    My thoughts on the Top 10:
    1) Goodbye Pork Pie – deserves the number 1 slot for removing the kiwi cultural cringe and making us proud to be seen on the big screen. A fun, 100% kiwi experience.
    2) Smash Palace – still incredibly powerful and moving. Bruno Lawrence at his best. Also a wonderful performance from Greer Robson (we have great child acting in this country). Superb directing from Roger Donaldson considering he was a novice film-maker at the time.
    3) Utu – definitely need to re-visit this one. Will get the redux when it is released on Blu-Ray.
    4) Vigil – Vincent Ward’s best film. The NZ landscape never looked so menacing. So many layers of meaning in this film – wonderful.
    5) The Piano – awesome film. More great child acting from Anna Paquin. Superbly filmed, again the NZ landscape adding to the atmosphere.
    6) Heavenly Creatures – An interesting film to follow the career of Peter Jackson’s . It links his low-budget comedy horrors and his more serious “Hollywood” fantasy movies, containing elements of both styles.
    7) Once Were Warriors – Shows the side of NZ society that we all know but pretend doesn’t exist. Expertly filmed so that it feels both international but also uniquely New Zealand.
    8) Whale Rider – only a cold-hearted person could not be moved by the scene where Keisha Castle-Hughes gives her speech of her heritage.
    9) In My Father’s Den – less visual and more literary (not surprisingly). My least favourite of all the films on an emotional level, but well filmed and acted
    10) Boy – fun film, like Goodbye Pork Pie, pure kiwi. Nice how #1 and #10 come full circle.

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  44. bc (1,252 comments) says:

    Not worked up longknives, just sad that someone hates the culture from their country so much. I wonder why you live here.

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  45. Longknives (4,048 comments) says:

    None of these movies are a patch on this soaring epic…

    The legendary Battletruck! Not a haka or a kid riding a whale to be seen….

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  46. bc (1,252 comments) says:

    Wow, an instant downtick (at 5.04pm) from longknives pointing out what I love about each of those 10 films.
    Can’t say I’m surprised. Confirms everything I thought.

    (Battletruck not a NZ film by the way)

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  47. edhunter (435 comments) says:

    And not one mention of “The Devil Dared Me” great laugh out loud movie with an awesome kiwi soundtrack.

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  48. Longknives (4,048 comments) says:

    bc- You mistakenly assume that just because I openly detest Maori ‘culture’ I hate New Zealand.
    There is so much more to New Zealand ‘culture’ than googly-eyed hakas and an overwhelming sense of entitlement..

    *I thought Battletruck was NZ produced, filmed in Central Otago and starred NZ actors??

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  49. Pauleastbay (5,030 comments) says:

    “Came a Hot Friday” should win a special prize as the worst adaptation of a book in the history of the entire world, and I’ve told myself a million times not to exaggerate.

    Ronald Hugh Morrison a great, great writer and they rooted his book with an appalling film

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  50. bc (1,252 comments) says:

    Well I think the haka is getting a bit overused longknives, but to have such a hatred of it that you won’t watch “Boy” is rather extreme. You seem to mention the haka in every post!!

    Anyway the so-called haka in “Boy” is a mash-up of the haka (naturally) and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Not only is it pretty cleverly done, but it fits well with the themes of the film. Plus it’s in the end credits so if you hate the haka that much you can always switch it off when the credits start!!

    You also mention not wanting to watch “Whale Rider” because it has Keisha Castle-Hughes in it. Again your choice, but it seems rather silly to me to miss out on such a great performance (and one amazing scene in particular) because of Keisha’s green statements. Also she is only a child in the film!

    “Battletruck” is a US film. It was one of a few films at the time (“Race for Yankee Zephyr” is another one that I remember) that were filmed here because of generous tax breaks. But apart from that it is completely US made. Also the plots are so typically “Hollywood” and generic (Battletruck was one of a wave of cheap post-apocalyptic sci-fi films that were popular for at the time) that they could have been filmed anywhere.

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  51. Pauleastbay (5,030 comments) says:

    Midnight Run was another like Battle Truck, lots of it filmed in Central Otago but they weren’t NZ movies.

    Narnia had lots of work here not NZ films.

    Thats why LOR and the Hobbit aren’t NZ films , they are filmed here but the bucks are put up by US Studios

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  52. bc (1,252 comments) says:

    Pauleastbay @6.50pm Re: Came a Hot Friday
    I wouldn’t go that far! The dark themes of “Came a Hot Friday” were lightened for the film, and there was too much of Billy T James, but there was still lots of nasty overtones.
    The recent film of a Ronald Hugh Morrison book (can’t think of the name but it had the aussie “Chopper” comedian in it trying to do a NZ accent – yuk!) was the worst adaption by far.

    I loved “The Scarecrow” – that was definitely the best.

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  53. Longknives (4,048 comments) says:

    What is the criteria? Wikipedia says it is a New Zealand film..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battletruck

    I had a Battletruck sweatshirt when I was about eight- height of fashion in those days!

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  54. Pauleastbay (5,030 comments) says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_New_Zealand_films

    The list explains the international component.

    And no Siones Wedding, I loved that movie, the second was not great but the first one was excellent

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  55. Pauleastbay (5,030 comments) says:

    Longknives go to the list I put up its says Battle Truck, a Hollywood movie shot in New Zealand

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  56. Pauleastbay (5,030 comments) says:

    bc

    You are thinking of “Predicament”. Morriesons books are spectacularly dark and he just writes brilliantly of small town New Zealand, of the one I grew up in anyway. All the secrets and the darkness behind closed doors.

    John Carridine starred in The Scarecrow and he was perfect. It’s a book well ahead of its time. No one else was writing about freaks as candidly as that in the early 60′s

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  57. Pauleastbay (5,030 comments) says:

    I had a Battletruck sweatshirt when I was about eight- height of fashion in those days!

    Longknives

    You are too fucking cool to be hanging about with us knuckle dragging buffoons.

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  58. Longknives (4,048 comments) says:

    I only wish it still fit me PEB….

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  59. Yoza (1,353 comments) says:

    No.#1: Meet the Feebles

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  60. bc (1,252 comments) says:

    I think every kiwi kid (boy?) watched “Battletruck” when it came out. That’s the great thing about being a kid – you can enjoy any old rubbish. I don’t think I could watch “Battletruck” as an adult, it wouldn’t be the same.

    I remember as a teenager loving all those tacky ’80s horrors – they called them video nasties for a reason! Looks of boobs and violence – perfect for a teenage boy! Recently I saw “The Toxic Avenger” in a pile of cheap DVD’s at the Warehouse, so I had to buy it, just for old times. Needless to say it was a huge disappointment. Some things are best left as fond memories.

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  61. Pauleastbay (5,030 comments) says:

    I’m loving “The Wild Wild West ” on Jones at the moment, its is still good

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  62. Longknives (4,048 comments) says:

    No need to stamp on my childhood memories bc! (Though I had a similar experience watching Capricorn One recently..)

    I’m still trying to figure out a list.. but of this one only Goodbye Pork Pie, Smash Palace and Vigil would make my top ten.

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  63. Pauleastbay (5,030 comments) says:

    Mine in no particular order:

    Goodbye Pork Pie, The Quiet Earth, Sleeping Dogs (Prophetic 4 years later I was running around in that police riot gear) Siones Wedding, Smash Palace, Vigil (stunning photography) The Worlds fastest Indian,The Scarecrow. The Navigator,Black Sheep.

    There might be better ones but they are ones I’ve seen. And in the majority of them some chick gets her tits out, great days indeed mama

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  64. bc (1,252 comments) says:

    PEB – in two of those films you have chosen, Bruno Laurence gets his willy out :)

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  65. RRM (8,997 comments) says:

    Vincent Ward’s Rain of the Children should be on there, just for the achievement of its being the least uplifting movie ever made, anywhere.

    I’m surprised Once were Warriors isn’t higher, look at the reviews on IMDB and it is page after page of people from all over the world saying it’s the best movie they’ve ever seen.

    In my Father’s Den is a good movie but I’m surprised it’s on that list.

    Must have been a tough call putting Boy ahead of Sione’s Wedding, I love both those movies :-D

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