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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the lost boys

(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 vampire movies you’ve probably never seen!)

Vampires are one of the horror genre’s more bland and uninspired character types, but even as I believe that to be true, I also find myself to be a big fan of dozens of vampire films. I promise this is less about me being a hypocrite than it is a response to the abundance of lazy filmmakers out there, as the movies that stand apart from the pack for one reason or another entertain by being different (or simply better) than the norm. Some deliver the goods with a smart script and loads of personality while others simply find fresh ways to tell a vampire story… even if that means chucking the fangs, bats, and magic eyes right out the window.

This month sees the anniversary of two such standouts – it’s the 25th anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the 30th for The Lost Boys – so I wanted to take a look at some other good to great vampire movies that deserve a bit more attention. Great titles like The Lair of the White Worm, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Lifeforce, Vampire’s Kiss, Near Dark, and Cronos have been covered enough by this point, all well-deserved, but here are seven more that you probably haven’t seen that are still worth the effort of seeking out.

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War For the Planet of the Apes sequel

(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 about apes and/or monkeys you’ve probably never seen!)

War for the Planet of the Apes hits theaters this week and promises to be the biggest (and possibly best) movie yet about our brothers and sisters from hairier mothers and misters, but it’s just the latest in a long line of films centered on monkeys, apes, and other non-human primates. From King Kong to Congo, moviegoers are fascinated by mankind’s interactions with species so close to our own and yet still so far away.

Films focused on these simian creatures typically fall into one of three categories. Some see the animals as threats (Monkey Shines, Blood Monkey), others as comic relief or sidekicks (Dunston Checks In, Every Which Way But Loose), and the remainder as test subjects (Outbreak, 28 Days Later). There’s also what ever the hell Monkeybone is. Most of these are fairly well known, and many of them are beloved to boot, but as is always the case there are a handful of monkey/ape-centric movies that are worth watching despite their general lack of popularity.

Speaking of which, here are six such movies – ones featuring monkeys, apes, or something similar as major parts of the narrative – that you probably haven’t seen.

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despicable me 3

(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 animated kids movies you’ve probably never seen!)

There are currently three animated kids movies playing in theaters, two in the top ten at the box-office, and this week also sees the release of Despicable Me 3. This isn’t a bad thing, as kids need entertainment too, but there’s an argument to be made that far too much of Hollywood’s kid-friendly fare is aimed specifically at very stupid kids. Okay, fine, maybe they just treat the kids as stupid. The end result is the same, in that too often the movies ask nothing of its young viewers and give even less in return.

There are better alternatives out there in animated films that entertain while also delivering substance, weight, and wit beyond mere fart jokes, with stories and characters that succeed without turning the volume all the way up to “constant noise.” Wall-E and Zootopia are two popular examples, but they get enough press and praise. No, we’re here to talk about the films you and yours haven’t seen. Some simply failed to find an audience, some are foreign productions, and some are simply decades old. All of them though are worth a shot at family film time.

So gather the young ones around the screen as we take a look at some great animated kids movies that you probably haven’t seen.

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47 meters down

(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 shark attack movies you’ve probably never seen!)

Shark attack movies bit into the public consciousnesses in 1975 with Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, and while no other film has come close to matching its quality or sheer entertainment value, that hasn’t stopped filmmakers from trying. That’s a good thing. Because when done right, shark attack films can be terrifying and/or immensely fun to watch, but when done wrong, we get most of the shark movies that have been produced in the past decade. I’m looking at you Sharknado, 3-Headed Shark Attack, and Snow Sharks.

It’s worth wading through the bad to get to the good though, as Jaws 2 is an okay sequel, Deep Blue Sea is a ton of fun, and Open Water is an utterly harrowing experience. Last year’s The Shallows was a hugely entertaining surprise too, and this week’s 47 Meters Down is hoping to follow in its sandy footsteps. I’m staying optimistic, but seeing as the film was released on DVD ever so briefly last year before being pulled for an eventual theatrical roll-out, I don’t think I’ll be holding my breath on it.

So there are the good to great shark attack movies you already know and love and abysmal ones with cheap, intentionally (?) terrible CG effects and zero effort towards suspense or thrills. (There’s also the Bollywood shark movie, Aatank, which I so wanted to include here but couldn’t bring myself to do in good conscience. It’s a two hour movie, and only about five minutes of it is shark related… but what a five minutes. Oh my.) There are also good to great ones that somehow slipped through the cracks, and while I expect a couple of the ones below have already graced some of your eyeballs, I’d recommend seeking out the others for some good old-fashioned elasmobranch fish fun!

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wonder woman

(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 lead female action stars in movies you may have missed!)

Wonder Woman hits the big screen this week, and I’m happy to report that it’s quite good. It’s also the first modern solo effort for a female superhero, and while that’s fantastic news – albeit long overdue – it’s far from the first female-led action picture. Women have been kicking butts onscreen for decades, and they’ve headlined plenty of terrific action movies along the way including Aliens, Kill Bill, and The Long Kiss Goodnight just to name a few. There’s always room for more though, which is why it’s so damn great when a Rita Vrataski, Imperator Furiosa, or Wonder Woman comes along.

For every well-known female performer who lands a role as a strong, action-capable character in a big-budget blockbuster-to-be, there are a typically a few who slip under the radar in smaller, lower profile films. They get less attention, but truth be told, these lesser-known action stars (female or male) in lower-budgeted movies have to work harder to be noticed and often deliver far more memorable action sequences as a result. The trick is getting people to see them… and that’s where this week’s column comes in. Keep reading for a look at six bone-crunching action movies with female leads (doing the bone crunching) that you’ve probably missed.

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The Best Movie Monsters You’ve Never Seen

alien covenant

(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: some of the best movie monsters you may have missed!)

Ridley Scott has a new movie hitting theaters this week, and for those of us who love his 1979 sci-fi/horror classic Alien, that news is improved further by the knowledge that his latest is a new entry in the franchise. Of course, 2012’s Prometheus fit that very same bill, and we all know how that turned out. (Not terribly if you ask me, but let’s stay focused here.) Alien: Covenant may end up featuring equally stupid human characters, but judging by the trailers, it’s made at least one important improvement. It’s bringing back the fast-moving, wickedly dangerous, and endlessly terrifying xenomorphs (in some form or another) to wreak bloody havoc.

Through the franchise’s ups and downs the aliens themselves have remained some of the most beautifully nightmarish monsters to ever grace the screen, and if we’re being honest, few others come even close to comparing in the area of horrifyingly effective design. Still though, there’s no shortage of memorable movie monsters from the Graboids in Tremors and the river monster in The Host to the creepy subterranean killers in The Descent and the alien monstrosities of John Carpenter’s The Thing. These and others made the cut earlier this year right here on this very site.

But what of the frightening creatures in movies that maybe didn’t find a spot on that list or any other? The seven movies below aren’t nearly as well known, and they’re not all great necessarily (although I’d go to the mat for half of them), but the common thread between them is in the design and presentation of their monsters. Some are terrifying, some are fun, and others are darkly beautiful, but all of them deserve to be seen by more eyeballs.

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The Best Sci-Fi Comedies You’ve Never Seen

guardians of the galaxy 2

(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: some of the best sci-fi comedies you’ve never seen!)

A little movie called Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hits theaters this week, and while it’s a Marvel comic/superhero movie, it also looks to follow its predecessor in being a fairly funny comedy as well. The sci-fi/comedy sub-genre is one with a universe worth of material to have fun with, but it isn’t nearly as crowded as you might think. There are great ones (Back to the Future), bad ones (Morons from Outer Space), unintentional ones (Battlefield Earth), ones you think you love but haven’t actually seen recently enough to realize they’re actually terrible (The Ice Pirates), and, of course, the best one (Galaxy Quest).

You know what there aren’t a lot of though? Great ones that haven’t found the audience they deserve. So yes, this is probably the least collectively obscure of these columns so far, but hopefully there are at least a few on here you haven’t seen yet.

And with that it’s time to look at some lesser-known sci-fi comedies guaranteed to leave you laughing, giggling, or maybe just slightly smiling while you shake your head and wonder what the hell is wrong with this Hunter guy.

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best amnesia movies

(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: some of the best movies featuring amnesia or memory loss you’ve never seen… or may have just forgotten.)

A new movie called Unforgettable hits theaters this weekend starring Rosario Dawson and Katherine Heigl, and while it doesn’t appear to have anything to do with amnesia, audiences will probably be forgetting it as soon as they exit the theater. I kid. We love Rosario Dawson. 1996’s Unforgettable however, does involve ideas of memory. So now that we’ve established that incredibly tenuous connection for this week’s topic, let’s take a look at some great movies about memory loss!

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The 2012 Summer Olympics are in full swing and you know what that means: once again you are looking up the definition of the word “dressage.”

The sports film, when done right, can be one of the most exhilarating genres of all. And once you get past The Fighter, The Sandlot and Hoosiers you’ll find that there are more and more treasures out there. This list just scratches the surface of great, lesser-known movies out there whose subjects match events playing out in London over the next few weeks. Read More »