Cafe Flesh and Blue Velvet. Although I've never seen it until tonight, the one movie that stayed with me the most was this one, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
What about this movie made it stick in my head? Look at the pictures in this gallery. Most of them are movie posters, but look at the stills from the film. They're all striking lights and shadows, severe angles, and stark contrasts. They are like photos of a dream.
Bonus for anybody who likes Britpop... Take a look at this picture of Jarvis Cocker of Pulp. Now take a look at the guy in black in this picture. I KNOW!
Caligari was released in 1919, nearly one hundred years ago. I've got to say, though, that unlike Dracula (which I watched yesterday), this one really withstands the test of time. It's not in-your-face terrifying, and it's not the kind of fear that you get from watching a movie and thinking about if it really happened. It really does play out like a dream. You watch the characters do things that maybe don't entirely make sense, but it doesn't matter - in dream logic things don't have to make sense.
The plot: Two friends, both in love with the same girl, decide to visit a fair which has come to town. At the fair, Dr. Caligari exhibits Cesare, a somnambulist (I had to look it up - it means sleepwalker) who he claims has slept for 23 years in Caligari's specially built cabinet. Cesare "knows the past and sees the future," and can answer any question put to him. When one of the friends asks how long he will live, Cesare tells him until dawn the next morning... which is exactly right.
I loved this movie. The sets were as much a character as any of the actors. The scene when Cesare actually opened his eyes was creepy. As. Hell. And although I can't be completely sure about this, I'd be willing to bet that this movie introduced the concept of the twist ending. Somehow in everything I'd read, I'd never seen what the actual ending to this movie is (I didn't tell it above), so when it came, it really did catch me off guard.
Here's the other thing that I loved about this movie - it brought back another of my dreams, but this one a very good dream. For a long time, it's been my dream job to open in Lubbock a theater like the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. It's nothing that I expect will ever actually happen, just one of those pleasant daydreams that gets you through the especially crappy days at the office. I've heard that sometimes at the Alamo, they'll bring in silent films and a local band, and let the band provide accompaniment for the feature. This movie made me want to do that. I'm about to plunk myself squarely into the mid-90s and say that I think Rasputina or Shakespears Sister would do a knockout job with Caligari.
I give it five cabinets out of five.