Best Movies About Preachers

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. In this edition, we put our hands together, drop to our knees, and then realize that’s a terribly uncomfortable position in which to watch movies featuring men of God as lead characters.)

When it comes to priests (preachers, pastors, etc) in movies, they typically fall into just a handful of character types. There are exceptions, of course, but the majority of them seem to find life as casual guys (Mass Appeal), pervs (Spotlight), or the last line of defense against the devil Himself (The Exorcism of Emily Rose). As with most professions, though, people who choose this line of work are typically more complicated than those one-note descriptions suggest. They’re not all good or all bad and instead usually offer the same gray slate as the rest of us.

Keep reading for a look at six movies with memorably atypical lead portrayals of men of God.

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(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. In this edition, we get dirty with the follow-up to Nicolas Cage’s grim and grimy thriller about leather, latex, and the lurid world of snuff films.)

This column’s only six entries deep, but all of the featured DTV sequels have so far offered a direct connection to the film that came before it. The continued storyline hasn’t helped most of them in the quality department, but the return of characters and specific narratives at least works to draw in curious viewers hoping to see where a film went after the end credits finished rolling.

There’s a whole other kind of DTV sequel, though, and we’re getting our first taste of its nonsensical, disconnected nature this week.

Joel Schumacher’s 8MM is a solid, occasionally brutal and dramatic thriller with a stellar cast, and while it wasn’t a hit necessarily it made some coin, disturbed some viewers, and found a fan in Roger Ebert. The sequel – yes, there was a sequel made six years later – doesn’t manage any of that, but it shouldn’t be surprising because it also lacks any connection whatsoever to Schumacher’s film. It’s a sequel in name only, and that’s because it was originally called The Velvet Side of Hell during production before being retitled for marketing purposes and released as 8MM 2.

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the hidden II

(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. In this edition, we take a look at a sad little cash-grab hoping to capitalize on the cult popularity of 1987’s third-best sci-fi/action movie.)

One of my favorite things about consuming entertainment media – whether it be film, literature, or television – is having the opportunity to share terrific but lesser known favorites with people who haven’t seen or sometimes even heard of them. I do so whenever possible at my various online homes like Film School Rejects and Twitter, via my bi-weekly column here at /Film, and even when talking in person with friends. (“In person” refers to conversing face to face with real people in the real world.) One such example of a lesser known favorite I’ve shared over the years has been Jack Sholder’s 1987 gem The Hidden.

It was far from a hit despite earning double its $5 million budget in theaters, and while it’s become a cult favorite over the years for fans of great things, far too many people still haven’t seen it. Seek it out immediately if that’s you, as Sholder delivers a wickedly fun tale of feuding aliens, bloody encounters, and the power of friendship. It’s also one hell of an ’80s time capsule complete with flashy cars, loud music, and a young Kyle MacLachlan.

The film was ripe for a sequel and had it been an actual hit, it probably would have gotten one for the big screen. Instead, six years later, New Line Cinema quietly released a follow-up direct to video. As sacred as I find my duty for pointing people towards fantastic but underseen movies, I’m equally compelled to divert you away from absolute duds on the off chance you come across one while browsing for something to watch. It’s why I devote time to DTV Descent, and it’s why I’m here to warn you about 1993’s The Hidden II.

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The Best Spanish Horror Movies You’ve Never Seen

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. In this edition, we whip out our passport and go looking for Spanish terrors deserving of more eyeballs.)

Spain is a beautiful nation filled with rich culture, wonderful people, and the abomination that is bullfighting, and like most countries, it’s also home to past sins and acts of government-sanctioned barbarism. It’s no surprise that Spanish (and Mexican) filmmakers often infuse their horror films and thrillers with that history, and that reflection on very real pain has resulted in some fantastically dark genre films from the grisly fun of Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972) to the emotionally scarring loneliness of The Devil’s Backbone (2001). More recently, they’ve proven themselves capable of delivering kick-ass “zombie” films with REC (2007) and REC 2 (2009), the supernatural masterpiece that is The Orphanage (2007), and terrifying psychological horror movies including Julia’s Eyes (2010), Kidnapped (2010), and Sleep Tight (2011).

In addition to being well-known, though, most genre fans have already seen those movies. (Although if you haven’t, you should fix that sooner rather than later as they are all fantastic.) So in an effort to do what I do, I’m highlighting some other Spanish horror films this week that are a bit less recognizable despite being equally fantastic. All six are Spanish productions (despite two being in English), and while they lean heavily towards the horrors humans inflict upon each other, I made sure to toss in some hungry gastropods for good measure.

Keep reading for a look at some of the best Spanish horror movies you probably haven’t seen.

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The Best Island-Set Movies You’ve Never Seen

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. In this edition, we take a vacation and explore the best movies you’ve never seen that are set on islands.)

It’s the summer movie season, which means it’s the season of big, CG-filled adventures, and one of the biggest (and most CG-filled) of this summer’s offerings is next month’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. I bring it up for a wholly different reason, though, as its franchise features some of the most well-known movies set on islands. It might seem like a pointless designation, but island-set features are almost a sub-genre to themselves as they create an immediately understood atmosphere for the story at hand.

Their geography dictates isolation from the rest of the world, and that in turn works to build suspense, desperation, and tension (if that’s the goal). Protagonists are far removed from civilization, , and the setting works to enhance their loneliness whether it be a dramatic adventure (Cast Away), comedy (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), survival tale (Lord of the Flies), coming of age story (The Blue Lagoon), folk horror (The Wicker Man), or underappreciated Michael Bay flick. Of course, you’ve already seen those movies.

Keep reading for a look at some of the best island-set movies you’ve never seen.

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‘Deep Blue Sea 2’ is a Soggy Sequel

(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. In this edition, we go swimming with sharks and take a look at the long-overdue follow-up to the highly entertaining shark attack thriller Deep Blue Sea.) 

Director Renny Harlin‘s career is itself heading towards the DTV world these days, but back in the ’90s, he delivered a handful of truly solid big-screen action/adventures like Cliffhanger (1993), The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), and the deliriously fun Deep Blue Sea (1999). The latter film pits a cast of familiar faces against a trio of genetically modified sharks in the middle of the ocean, and it is glorious. Big thrills, a knowing sense of humor, and at least two genuine character surprises elevate it from minor genre fare to a slice of entertainment that’s shown real staying power over the nearly two decades since its release.

A sequel has been rumored over the years, but it’s only now come into existence by way of a DTV film featuring none of the original’s players and nearly all of its story beats. A lack of originality is no guarantee of awfulness, though, so we decided to jump in feet first to see if the blandly titled Deep Blue Sea 2 can sink or swim with Harlin’s kick-ass original.

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(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series where we explore the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. In this edition we dig deep on the five – five! – DTV sequels to the terrifically fun and eminently rewatchable Tremors.)

1990’s Tremors is something of a rare bird. It’s a creature feature that appeals to all kinds of moviegoers as it delivers monster mayhem alongside personality, laughs, and charm. Even more important and impressive? It does it with some fantastic and original practical effects. Big worms, sharp beaks, long tongues… when they blow up it results in big smiles and a rainstorm of sloppy wet guts. It was a modest hit in theaters, but it’s become a beloved modern classic over the years as more people discover it and the rest of us continue to re-watch it.

Sequels seemed like a no-brainer, but it took six years for the first one to appear – straight to video, naturally – and four more have plopped onto DVD in the more than 20 years since. The bigger surprise than their actual existence is the realization that they’re not all as bad as you’d fear. I know, I was surprised too. That said, I used the word “plopped” for a reason. Unmemorable scripts, bland characters, and the advent of cheap, ugly CG mark the franchise as a series of frequently diminishing returns despite holding the odd claim of being an action/horror franchise headlined by Family TiesMichael Gross. The hope that the once upcoming (but newly canceled) TV series from Blumhouse would bring back the magic along with stars Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward is no more, so we’ll have to settle for a look at the five DTV sequels to Tremors.

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The Best Superhero Movies You’ve Never Seen

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. In this edition, we look up in the sky for the best superhero movies you’ve never seen.)

You may or may not be aware of it, but superhero movies are big business these days. From Supergirl to Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD, from Darkman to Doctor Mordrid, audiences just can’t get enough of heroes with superpowers and/or good intentions. One just released in theaters to the biggest opening weekend in film history, meaning the people suggesting “superhero fatigue” is setting in are clearly not to be trusted. They’re not all as successful as the likes of Condorman (pictured above), though, and that’s where I come in.

My name’s Rob, and while I hesitate to call it a “superpower” exactly, I do enjoy drawing attention and eyeballs towards underappreciated and underseen films. The big names in this genre belong almost exclusively with Marvel and DC, so I’m going to point you elsewhere for movies that satisfy your need for justice, action, and the kind of heroics that only a cape and mask can provide.

Keep reading for a look at six of the best superhero movies you’ve probably never seen.

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The Best South Korean Horror Movies You’ve Never Seen

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. In this edition, we take a look at the best South Korean horror movies you’ve never seen.)

Train to Busan and The Wailing are two of the best horror films in recent years, and they couldn’t be more different. The former is a highly energetic and suspenseful zombie tale while the latter blends a methodically paced battle between good and evil with some incredibly intense sequences. Toss in less recent fare like Thirst, The Host, and A Tale of Two Sisters, and it’s clear that South Korea is home to some terrific and terrifying horror movies.

Of course, as you probably surmised by the title of this post, I’m not here to talk about the great movies you’ve already seen – I’m here to recommend ones you haven’t. Below, you’ll find six Korean chillers featuring murder, madness, monsters, and more. Some of the threats are supernatural while others are all too human, but all of them are worth watching with the lights off and a hot cocoa in your hand.

Keep reading for a look at the best South Korean horror movies you probably haven’t seen.

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WarGames Sequel

(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrical released movies. In this edition: we take a look at a DTV sequel to a beloved ’80s film featuring a trouble-making Matthew Broderick and a dead child named Joshua.)

WarGames was a big hit back in the summer of 1983 despite its dark subject matter – nuclear war, millions of lives at risk, teens forgetting to put lids on trash cans – and its self-contained story and highly satisfying conclusion left no need for a follow-up. 25 years later, though, some asshole decided to make one anyway.

2008’s WarGames: The Dead Code is a direct sequel despite arriving a full quarter of a century later, and audiences reacted by completely ignoring its existence. The film immediately disappeared into the ether, but as a firm believer that every movie deserves a chance – and as someone with a column concerned with DTV sequels to wide releases – I decided to give it a spin. Could it have been unfairly dismissed? Is it deserving of reappraisal and a fan base dedicated to turning it into a cult hit? Should you, dear readers, invest cash money and 100 minutes of your precious time towards seeing it?

For the love of all that’s holy, the answer to all three of those questions is a resounding no.

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