The Best End of the World 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 some of the best movies you’ve probably never seen about the end of the world as we know it.)

Geostorm hits theaters this week, and if you’re not even a little bit excited then I have to assume you’re dead inside. Gerard Butler shoots storm fronts in the head and kicks tornadoes in the crotch… what’s not to love?! The film promises some of that good old fashioned Roland Emmerich-esque nuttiness, blending massive amounts of CG destruction, an ensemble cast of somewhat recognizable faces, and some poor shmuck’s sacrifice in an effort to save what’s left of humanity. (My money’s on Butler as the shmuck.)

Of course, not all end of the world movies are traditional disaster films. Some destroy cities like Emmerich’s 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow. Some focus on a handful of people fueled by rumor but reacting as if it were fact (Miracle Mile). Some unleash a viral plague that wipes out most of mankind (28 Days Later). And some feature massive demon with giant… Err, some are This Is the End. The common thread between them, whether they feature massive amounts of destruction or not, is the suggestion or reality that humanity is on the way out or at least in store for a world-changing shake up.

Keep reading for a look at six terrific movies you probably haven’t seen about the end of the world as we know it.

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a ghost story

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: how a powerful 2017 film helped one writer grapple with tragedy. This post contains spoilers for A Ghost Story.)

People watch movies for all kinds of reasons. For entertainment, for work, just to kill some time. Sometimes, though, the magic of a great movie can work as comfort for pains big and small, like a cinematic salve for what ails you. Whether you’re fighting the flu or missing a loved one, the right movie can do wonders. A funny comedy, a mindless action movie, an all-time favorite – my personal go-to films in these situations run the gamut from Broadcast News to Slugs, and they never fail to get my mind and spirit back on track.

Well, almost never. I’m a generally chipper guy (with a side of cynicism and a dash of indifference), but while the world at large seems more and more intent on beating us down these days, I can typically push forward and weather the storm unscathed. An exception was born over the past few years, though, and it’s only becoming more common. News of particularly horrific mass shootings just devastates me. A Parisian concert hall, an Orlando night club, a Lafayette movie theater – I grow simultaneously furious, numb, and helpless in my grief for lives cut down in moments of joy, and attempts to distract my thoughts with “entertainment” fail miserably.

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DeepStar Six vs. Leviathan

(Welcome to Seeing Double, a series where two strangely similar films released around the same time are put head-to-head. This time: we flash back to 1989, when undersea creatures attacked in both DeepStar Six and Leviathan!)

This month’s face-off comes with a creature feature theme in honor of Halloween and we’re pitting two underwater monster movies against each other. DeepStar Six and Leviathan came out two months apart back in early 1989, and while neither rocked pop culture, both have their die-hard fans to this day. And a quick note: James Cameron’s The Abyss is often lumped together with these two as it also came out in ’89 and features underwater riggers encountering an unknown life form, but it doesn’t really belong in this particular conversation. For one thing, the characters aren’t being attacked by a monster, and for another, it would obviously trounce every category.

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the money pit

(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 some of the best movies you’ve probably never seen about people trying and sometimes struggling to make a new home.)

As anyone who’s done it before knows, the prospect of moving to a new home can be a daunting one. From the investment of time and money to the physical reality of finding yourself in unfamiliar surroundings, trading the comfort of the known for the potentially harrowing unknown is ultimately a crap shoot. You’ll most likely end up happy and relieved at having made the change, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out like you planned.

/Film’s own Jacob Hall is in the middle of moving to a new house as I write this, and while it’s been a bumpy process, it has also been free of extreme home improvement snafus and vengeful ghosts upset with their new guests. Not everyone’s as lucky, though, and the movies are filled with examples of people finding their dream home turn into a nightmare. Things fall apart in The Money Pit and Funny Farm, things go bump in the night in hundreds of haunted house movies, things literally go to hell in Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond… you just never know what you’ll find in a new home until you’ve spent a few nights under its roof.

Keep reading for a look at some of the best movies you’ve probably never seen about the highs and lows (mostly lows) of trying to make a new home. There’s not a single ghost story among them!

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breaking away

(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 some of the best underdog sports movies you’ve probably never seen.)

I’m not a big fan of sports films in general, and it’s due at least in part to my disinterest in the sports themselves. The only ones I actively participate in, as a player and/or spectator, are tennis and racquetball. Neither sport has exactly lit up the multiplex, and while I have a soft spot for the goofiness of Wimbledon the dearth of truly good tennis movies means I don’t see my sporting interests represented up on the screen.

That changes, though, when the subject is tweaked a bit into the form of underdog sports movies. That’s a subject even someone like me can fully get behind, and thankfully filmmakers are happy to oblige. Were this a “best of” list with no other qualifiers, it would include the two actual best, but I think enough of you have seen Breaking Away (1979) and Lucas (1986) that adding them to a list of movies you haven’t seen would be preposterous and unsportsmanlike. You have seen them right? Right?! Breaking Away is among the very best American films, period, and Lucas stands tall as an underdog sports tale that succeeds while subverting the myriad tropes of the sub-genre. Seriously, seek them out immediately if you haven’t already seen them as they will re-calibrate the meaning of pure joy for you.

Keep reading for a look at the best underdog sports movies you probably haven’t already seen.

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friend request

This coming weekend sees the release of a new horror movie hoping to scare audiences out of a few bucks, and we’re hoping it delivers despite seeming destined to open lower than a certain other horror movie heading into its third weekend. I’m looking at you, Stephen King’s IT.

If nothing else, Friend Request stands apart from the old-fashioned thrills of killer clowns and pervy dads by hitching its jump scare-filled wagon to something far trendier. Yes, of course I’m referring to the dangers of social media. The film sees a popular young woman accept a friend request from someone much lower on the social ladder, but when she realizes her faux pas and ends the “friendship,” she discovers a demonic presence who isn’t too keen on saying goodbye.

The internet has offered an enormous boon to commerce, education, and cowardice, but while it brings users together there’s no doubt it’s also keeping people apart. The idea of humanity losing touch with the very connections that make us human is frightening enough in the abstract, but over the years, filmmakers have found and focused on very specific nightmares related to our increasingly online existence. The resulting movies haven’t all been winners – sorry Smiley and Open Windows – but a few have tapped into universally felt fears easily enhanced and magnified by the global nature and anonymity of the online world.

Keep reading for a look at the eight scariest internet-related horror movies.

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The Best Creepy Clown Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen

it

(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 some of the best creepy clown movies you’ve probably never seen.

Clowns are terrifying, even when they pretend otherwise. Sure some are sad, some are goofy, and others are disturbingly pleased with themselves, but beneath the creamy, sticky white makeup sits someone who knows they scare you… and they like knowing that. It’s no surprise then that, like scarecrows and pastors before them, clowns have become a go-to horror movie villain over the years. Most aren’t all that memorable, but one sits atop the heap of the best and scariest.

Stephen King’s It opens in theaters this week, and I can confirm that it’s a creepy, scary delight that nails both the novel’s horror elements and its character beats. At its core sits Pennywise, and while the nostalgic among you will fight to hold onto Tim Curry’s rendition, there’s a new clown in town when it comes to scenes of pure terror. The movie works like creepy gangbusters, and Bill Skarsgard’s new – and dare I say, improved – Pennywise is a big reason why.

He’s not the only creepy clown we can find onscreen of course. Killer Klowns from Outer Space and Stitches remain favorites while others love the clown-filled filmography of Rob Zombie, but while most clown lovers are familiar with these and others like Killjoy, Amusement, and Vulgar, there are a few actual worthwhile ones I’d like to point out instead.

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the villainess

(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 some underseen Asian action films from the past ten years.)

2017 has already been one heck of a year for action movies with the likes of John Wick: Chapter Two and Atomic Blonde delighting theatrical audiences while others including Free Fire and Plan B (my favorite action film of the year so far) wowed festival goers. The rest of the year holds promise as well, with the upcoming release of Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Jackie Chan’s The Foreigner, and Gerard Butler’s Geostorm…never mind. I can’t even finish that joke.

One of the year’s best, Jung Byung-gil’s The Villainess, is hitting theaters in limited release this week, and if it opens near you I must insist you buy a ticket, have a seat, and prepare yourself for two hours of beautifully choreographed action, ridiculous plot turns, and even more fantastically entertaining action. It’s a memorable ride and adds to the argument that we’re in the heyday of action cinema with many of the best coming our way from Asian shores. Keep reading for a look at some of the best recent action films from Japan, Cambodia, China, and elsewhere that you probably haven’t seen.

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1492 CONQUEST OF PARADISE

(Welcome to Seeing Double, a series where two strangely similar films released around the same time are put head-to-head. This time: 1992’s Christopher Columbus: The Discovery and 1492: Conquest of Paradise.)

Hollywood is a land of mystery. Who killed the Black Dahlia? Was Marisa Tomei the real winner of 1993’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar? Are TV shows just really long movies?

One of the less salacious and controversial mysteries to come out of Hollywood though involves the occasional appearance of “movie doubles” – films from rival studios with highly similar plots/subjects that are released in close proximity to each other. Think Volcano and Dante’s Peak or Deep Impact and Armageddon. There’s little upside to both studios sticking to their guns and moving forward with the production as history shows that, more often than not, one of the pair falls by the wayside at the box-office, so why even head into production on a film you know another studio has already begun? Are original ideas that hard to come by in Hollywood? (This is a rhetorical question.)

This year is the 25th anniversary of both Christopher Columbus: The Discovery and 1492: Conquest of Paradise, two films released in 1992 to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the famed adventurer’s voyage and “discovery” of America. Comparing the films reveals the expected similarities, but they still have their individual pros and cons. You’re probably already feeling pretty confident in thinking which of the two came out on top – because odds are many of you don’t even remember the other one – but that memory might be somewhat deceiving.

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the only living boy in ny

(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: the best movies named after a song title – intentionally or not – that you’ve probably never seen!)

Pop culture crosses streams all the time both in an effort to increase profit and benefit from name recognition. Adaptations, brands, and “cinematic universes” are the most obvious examples, but sometimes it’s as simple as a song. From Stand By Me and Bad Boys to Pretty Woman and Soul Man, some films are titled with the clear goal of reaching instant familiarity with potential viewers. They typically go the expected extra step of licensing the song for use in the movie itself, but sometimes the title itself – which I don’t believe counts as copyright infringement – is more than enough.

The latest film to go this route is the indie drama, The Only Living Boy in New York, which opens in limited release this week. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m betting it includes the Simon & Garfunkel song because they’d have to be fools not to. It’s a great song.

For every American Pie or When a Man Loves a Woman though, there are probably half a dozen far lesser known films also named after songs. Some are forgettable of course, but the six films below are all very good to great movies worth seeking out for fans of their respective genres.

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