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In The Company Of Men (1997)
Neil LaBute had been a powerful voice in the American theatre for a few years until he turned his hand to cinema, and knocked one out of the park first time out with this bitter, acid-edged , unwavering look at the evil that men do. In this case, the mendacious misanthropy comes from two guys (Aaron Eckhart and Matt Malloy), both recently dumped, who make a bet to toy with the affections of a deaf woman (Stacy Edwards). It - and LaBute - have been accused of misogyny, but the movie - as impassive as it is - leaves us in no doubt that Malloy and Eckhart are the slime of the universe.

Dark Star (1974)
There are those who will argue that Halloween is the better John Carpenter film, more deserving of recognition here. They're right and they're wrong. Halloween is indeed the better film - it was a terrific (in both senses), genuinely scary template for horror for the next decade, while Dark Star is a wildly uneven, low-budget-to the-point-of-impeding-your-enjoyment sci-fi. But the very fact that Dark Star found screens at all, its more creative story content (life onboard the ship being unsatisfactory, the philosophising bomb as a brilliant extension of 2001's self-aware HAL), and the issue that without it Carpenter's career wouldn't exist, gets this over the line.

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