The 5 Choice Indies of 2016

Cinema Crazed prides itself in covering as many independent films as possible every year. We’re all sent a ton of short films and feature length films all year through email, and we do our best to cover every single one within a twelve month period. We all watched a myriad independent titles in 2016, some terrible, many quite good, and I narrowed my favorites down to five choices.

This list is no reflection on the other indie films I loved in 2016, this is merely a list of movies that really stuck out with me. Feel free to visit the A+ Indie section for many more independent movies Cinema Crazed loved.

And as always, if you want to see these movies, please buy them legally, where ever available. Buying them helps support the companies, and these filmmakers, and we just may be able to see even more movies from these talented artists somewhere down the road.

5. The Funhouse Massacre
Directed by Andy Palmer

Written by Ben Begley

(Original Review | Buy It Here)
It’s a neat condition of being a movie fanatic that sometimes when you least expect it, a movie gem will sneak up on you and blow you out of your seat. I had no expectations for “The Funhouse Massacre” but was shocked to experience such a fun, gruesome, and creative horror comedy. Andy Palmer’s horror movie is an experience, a splatterific ride, and a damn good ode to the horror genre that fans in the mood for a good old fashioned party movie will adore. When a group of bonafide maniacs break out of a local asylum, they raid a nearby Halloween funhouse and begin to take over. From there they continue slaughtering hapless visitors, including a group of friends who realize they’re in deep dung, and have to fight through the group of psychopaths to make it out alive. “The Funhouse Massacre” has a great cast, is teeming with great action, and has a slick sense of humor about itself that I just ate up. This is a surefire treat every horror fan should check out.

4. Occupants
Directed by Russ Emanuel

Written by Julia Camara

(Original Review | Official Site)
I’m a big fan of the parallel worlds’ idea and Russ Emanuel manages to explore it in great length. “Occupants” is a thriller, but is mostly a science fiction based mystery where he explores the idea of viewing parallel worlds and the potential disastrous consequences that can come with viewing another version of ourselves. Young couple Annie and Neill decide to go on a strictly vegan and raw food diet in hopes of obtaining some higher state of mind, and accidentally tap in to another universe. Said universe involves alternate versions of themselves, both of whom are living in the same space and time, and are apparently heading in to much darker directions. Emanuel and writer Julia Camara hit the ground running with the idea that our parallel worlds not only sit side by side but can also affect one another in ways we never realized. “Occupants” is filled with surprises, unique plot twists, and a surefire menace that will keep even non-science fiction fans returning to watch it once again.

3. Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four
Directed by Marty Langford

Written by Marty Langford

(Original Review  |  Buy It Here)
After waiting and waiting, “Doomed!” finally arrived in 2016 and managed to be one of the more enlightening and entertaining documentaries about Hollywood politics in a long time. In a period where many indie filmmakers are fascinated with alternate reality Hollywood, “Doomed!” examines a period where FOX and Roger Corman created a low budget live action adaptation of the famous Marvel Comic. During a decade where comic book movies were a rarity and by no means considered worth investing in, “Fantastic Four” was a big deal for many comic buffs. After producing it, promoting it, and even bringing in reporters from various entertainment magazines, FOX revealed it never intended to release the actual film. The film was then shelved and never meant to be viewed. Years later, the entire surviving cast and crew look back at the horrendous charade, which involved a lot of heartbroken actors, confused fans, and resulted in a brutally fascinating story of Hollywood, and a film never intended to be seen, that became an accidental cult classic thanks to the classic bootleg.

2. Los Sures
Directed by Diego Echeverria
Written by Diego Echeverria
(Original Review  |  Buy It Here)
Originally released in 1984, filmmaker Diego Echeverria profiles neighborhoods in South Williamsburg where a small population of Hispanic Americans live among a neighborhood known as Los Sures. The documentary was thought to be lost for decades, and was given a very unique limited theatrical release in 2016. Though only an hour in length, it’s a remarkable time capsule of the eighties profiling a proud and very resilient lower class population, all of whom live day by day and cling to their religious beliefs for strength. Many folks in Los Sures have no other option but to stay in their homes and live as best as they can, and director Echeverria explores a lifestyle where there is really no other option but poverty and or jail time. “Los Sures” is a compelling look in to this impoverished community, where many of these folks rely on each other for strength and comfort, and have set their roots firmly in these slums simply because they have no choice. Though Los Sures has changed drastically since 1984, the film itself is superb.

1. We Like It Like That – The Story of Latin Boogaloo
Directed by Mathew Ramirez Warren

Written by Mathew Ramirez Warren

(Original Review  |  Buy It Here)
Growing up in a Latin household, many of the parties held by my parents and relatives eventually turned in to festivals for Boogaloo music. “We Like it Like That” is a much deserved and long overdue look at the origin and history of boogaloo and its importance to the Latin Community. It’s not just historical, but it’s raucously entertaining and moves at a brisk energy with a little under eighty minutes running time. The documentary was given a very limited release in 2016 sadly, but it deserves to be viewed by music aficionados alike.

The documentary explores how music was combined to make boogaloo, how the music sub-genre rose to fame and was celebrated in the streets of Spanish Harlem and the Bronx from the 60’s in to the late seventies, and how many of these artists helped influence modern icons. There’s a wonderful anecdote where one of the former boogaloo stars helped a young boy get to music class daily, only for him to grow up to be Marc Anthony. “We Like it Like That” is a down to Earth and engrossing chronicle of such a bright and excellent music that merged funk, jazz, R&B and Afro-Cuban elements. Though Boogaloo had its time and passed, the influence of its time in the spotlight is immortal, and this documentary is a damn good lesson in great music.