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10 must-watch movies that influenced Scott Pilgrim

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In celebration of today's Scott Pilgrim DVD/Blu-ray release, guest editor Edgar Wright is posting all day at io9. First up: his detailed list, given to io9 exclusively, of the top 10 DVDs that influenced Scott Pilgrim.

1. Flash Gordon

Some people seem to be down on the 1980 Flash Gordon, but personally I love it. I think it's really colorful, it's really fun. The design in it is amazing. The effects are maybe-not-kinda-great by 2010 standards, but it's just a bit of a blast. The score is incredible by Queen. The script is really funny, which was written by Lorenzo Semple, Jr. who did the Batman TV series. I think you can have all colors of the spectrum. You can have The Dark Knight, on one side and you can have Batman the TV series on the other. Flash Gordon is just a hoot. I find it really funny to watch. There's the sound effects from Flash Gordon that appears in Scott Pilgrim at a crucial point. Even Scott Pilgrim's t-shirts, his ringer tees, are a little bit like Flash Gordon.

2. Danger: Diabolik

In the same vein of colorful pop art — what I call "bubble gum explosion" films — is Danger: Diabolik, which is like the 1968 comic book adaptation about a super spy cat burglar. It's basically kind of like a heist film with John Phillip Law playing Diabolik, who's this master criminal who wears this skin-tight catsuit. He has his white E-Type Jag, a lovely lady, and a revolving bed in his lair in a cave covered in $100 dollar bills. It's just this amazing 60s crime romp with crazy gadgets and cars and amazing map paintings. The camera angles are really cool — another comic book film that's really having fun with the form. Plus it has a great Ennio Morricone score as well.


3. Phantom of the Paradise

One of my favorite Brian De Palma films is his mid-70s rock opera. Quite unlike Brian De Palma's other films, if you've only seen Scarface, The Untouchables and Dressed to Kill. Phantom of the Paradise is a bit of a departure for De Palma. It's like this rock-and-roll satire mixed with Phantom of the Opera and Faust. It has an amazing musical score by Paul Williams, and it features a villain called Swan played by Paul Williams, who himself is based on Phil Spector. Myself and Jason Schwartzman are obsessed with Phantom of the Paradise. So a little bit of Swan definitely factored into Gideon Graves in the Scott Pilgrim film.


4. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

On a similar note would be Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, the Russ Meyer film from 1970, which is co-written by Roger Ebert (famous film critic and anti-video game campaigner). It's about a girl band who head to Hollywood and fall prey to the sex, drugs and rock and roll. It's a big Hollywood rock-and-roll satire. Again, it has amazing songs in it. It also features another Phil Spector villain, this time a character called Ronnie "Z-Man" Barzell, who is very similar to Swan and Phil Spector. One of Ronnie "Z-Man" Barzell's costumes is very similar to Gideon. There's one point in the film where they refer to Gideon as G-Man, which is our little nod to that film. I love it so much. It's super stylized, the editing is absolutely crazy, it's really, really fast cut. If people believe that fast editing didn't exist before Avid this will prove them wrong.


5. Shaolin Soccer
The Stephen Chow film. Most people have seen Kung Fu Hustle, but not everyone has seen Shaolin Soccer. I love Kung Fu Hustle and definitely like a lot of the Hong Kong films that are very expressive in their visuals, and they have had an influence on the comics and the movie. But if you've only seen Kung Fu Hustle you should really check out Shaolin Soccer because I think it's slightly superior. I love it, I think it's really good fun.

6. Amelie

I'm a big fan of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, and I was a big fan of Delicatessen...[but] I love [Amelie], and I loved that it could tell a love story in such visual terms. So that would be something that would be talked about occasionally with Scott Pilgrim.


7. Five Fingers of Death

An amazing kung fu film from the early 70s from the Shaw Brothers, which features the Iron Palm, a move where the center of the palm lights up red to show the strength of the move. There's a really great DVD of that on Dragon Dynasty which has all manner of commentaries. I think there's a commentary from Quentin Tarantino and Elvis Mitchell on that one and maybe the RZA as well. I might be getting confused with The 36th Chamber of Shaolin which would be number 8...

8. The 36th Chamber of Shaolin

Another amazing classic martial arts 70s movie. This was one that I shared with the entire cast. When we were making Scott Pilgrim, they all came round and we watched it. If that film doesn't make you want to take up martial arts, then nothing will. It's really a design for life as much as it is a martial arts movie.


9. The Busby Berkeley Collection

You've got to get "The Busby Berkeley Collection." It's a great box set you can get with like five of his best films. Even if you've never seen a Busby Berkeley film, you've almost certainly seen one of his shots ripped-off in something else. He was the famous choreographer known for shooting dancers in geometric patterns, usually from an aerial shot. His dance routines were just insane because the sheer manpower required to pull them off is just ridiculous. If he has a shot where 100 dancers are required, there's no digital trickery. There really are a 100 dancers in the shot. If you're a Michel Gondry fan, a lot of his videos have Busby Berkeley-style shots in them.


10. Ferris Bueller's Day Off

The day before we started shooting Scott Pilgrim, myself and Michael Cera watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off. John Hughes is obviously a big influence. One of my notes from Michael was that Scott Pilgrim should be the kind of character that wavers between Ferris and Cameron. Sometimes he's as cocky as Ferris, and sometimes he's as insecure as Cameron. We had this prop on set which we called the "Ferris Wheel" which was this half-circle with an arrow — we'd change the arrow to whether it was Ferris or Cameron. That's one of the pictures in my photolog, people could never figure out what the Ferris Wheel was. I have no idea where the Ferris Wheel is now — I think it got lost.


Special thanks to Chelsea Lo Pinto. Video by John Siegel.

[Ferris Wheel image via Edgar Wright There]