The 400 Death Blows

Back in 2016 I did a review series where I alternated between Francois Truffaut’s five Adventures of Antoine Doinel films and Cannon Films’ five AMERICAN NINJA films, trying to keep the same open mind toward both, look for parallels, etc. I referred to it as Antoine vs. Ninja at the time, but now I like to think of it as The 400 Death Blows. Although I’m way more of a ninja guy than a French New Wave guy I think it’s good to try out a broad spectrum of art and not be put off by some other dip shit’s perception of what is supposed to be high or lowbrow or too trashy or too arty for little old you. Fuck that guy. You’re not that simple. You can appreciate all kinds of things.

The premise of this review series alone is just such a good encapsulation of what I aspire to be as a film critic and viewer that I wanted to make this post linking to all of the reviews so I could share it easier. Enjoy!

1. THE 400 BLOWS (1959)






7. BED & BOARD (1970)


9. LOVE ON THE RUN (1979)

10. AMERICAN NINJA 5 (1993)

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10 Responses to “The 400 Death Blows”

  1. This is one of my favourite features you’ve ever done. I’d love to see a follow-up series with a different highbrow/lowbrow pairing.

  2. I’ve given this too much thought already. I wouldn’t wish the job on anyone, let alone Vern, but I think Kieslowski’s DEKALOG could mesh nicely with the ELM STREET movies.

    But that’s way too much work. How about, since VIRGIN SPRING keeps coming up, matching Bergman’s trilogy – THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY, WINTER LIGHT, THE SILENCE – with the JOY RIDE movies? Vern’s already reviewed the first JOY RIDE and seemed to like it, and I think it would approach the intention of the 400 DEATH BLOWS series.

  3. Thank you. This was an idea I wanted to do for a long time, and I thought of many combinations, but none of them seemed quite right until I thought of this one. Dekalog is one of the things I was considering though, and it really seems like it could work really well with something.

  4. It’d have to be a series with ten installments, right? That’s kind of a tall order. PLANET OF THE APES, SAW, and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET are one movie short. HELLRAISER has ten and probably would have worked great considering its focus on sin and punishment but that’s no excuse to put yourself through that ordeal again. Some sources say CHILDREN OF THE CORN has ten but I’m counting more than that. There’s the BLACK EMMANUELLE series but nobody should ever have to watch that many Joe D’Amato movies in a row. If you hurry up and get it done before FAST X, you could do the FAST & FURIOUS franchise, but then it would quickly become out of date. If you consider LAKE PLACID and ANACONDA one series because of LAKE PLACID VS. ANACONDA, the might work, but it’s far from ideal. You could maybe do BATMAN, if you count the Adam West one and BATMAN V. SUPERMAN but don’t count JUSTICE LEAGUE. You COULD do TEXAS CHAINSAW if (and this is a really big if here) you could get your hands on a copy of Tobe Hooper’s son’s unreleased spinoff ALL-AMERICAN MASSACRE starring Bill Mosley and Buckethead (as Leatherface!), a movie so rare there’s a documentary about being unable to find it that supposedly comes out in a few weeks. Maybe that could be the tenth movie? Might pair well with the commandment about not coveting your neighbor’s goods.

    I guess maybe you could wait until Tarantino finally makes that tenth and final movie he’s been talking about for years. Might actually be interesting to look at his oeuvre from a specifically moral perspective. But who knows when that will ever happen?

    Oh shit. I found it. The EVIL BONG series. Ten movies, counting THE GINGERWEED MAN spinoff. I don’t think it’s possible to find two film series more opposite each other on the lowbrow/highbrow continuum. If you’re gonna do it, I’d get on it now, though. Charles Band seems to be able to shit these things out over a long weekend so the series might not stay at ten for very long.

    Okay, I’ve spent entirely too much of my morning researching this and I must stop now.

  5. I bought the Antoine Daniel Box Set off the back of this series back in the day. I still haven’t watched any of them yet, but I have rewatched AMERICAN NINJA 1 & 2 at least once in the period.

  6. Whoops! I honestly thought there were ten ELM STREET movies, but now I do some research, I see that Majestyk is right.

    But having done that research, I’m gonna suggest that Vern’s not gonna miss the opportunity to review the pilot from the Freddy’s Nightmares TV show, which, apparently feature’s Freddy’s trial, and so fits with the sin and judgement brief, and, more importantly, was directed by Tobe Hooper.

    After all the DEKALOG was made for Polish TV anyway.

    But honestly, it’s a bridge too far to do 20 movies.

  7. Now I’m thinking maybe it could be all the original in-continuity Jason movies. Remove FREDDY VS and the remake (which makes sense because, to the best of my knowledge, the Ten Commandments were never rebooted, nor did they ever do a crossover with like the Seven Deadly Sins or anything) and that’s ten movies.

  8. Satyajit Ray’s Apu trilogy and Frank Henenlotter’s BASKET CASE trilogy have a lot of strong parallels about the push/pull of familial bonds and accepting the responsibilities of fatherhood.

  9. This is exactly what I’m here for

  10. How about the Bourne films vs Dogma 95? Unnecessary editing vs unnecessary realism.

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