Posted on Friday, March 23rd, 2012 by Jordan Hoffman
This is the week The Hunger Games officially takes over the world. Try as we might to fight the system, we can’t escape – that is unless we kill every last one of you.
As I’m writing this I’ve yet to see HG, but I know I’ll dig it because the concept of deadly competition is one I find endlessly fascinating. How does one form allegiances with others when each party knows that there can ultimately be only one victor? I don’t know. It’s also why I don’t work in an office anymore.
There are a number of movies that deal with this topic, so let’s get cookin’ with this week’s TBMYPHS. Note: I’m not including The Running Man. You’ve seen it already, I hope. (I’m also not including Planet Hulk.)
Battle Royale (2000); Kinji Fukasaku, director.
Like I said, I haven’t seen HG yet and, despite downloading it to my Kindle a year ago, I haven’t read the book. (I’d like to lie and say it is because I’ve been waist-deep in the lesser known work of Dostoyevsky, but, honestly, I’m just very caught up in The New 52.)
Nevertheless I know enough about Katniss, Haymitch and District 12 to realize that, yeah, there seem to be a lot of similarities between it and this psychotic Japanese flick from 2000. There certainly are differences (every single website I read has written-up a “how The Hunger Games is different from Battle Royale” piece) but this is all beside the point. Battle Royale is a fun, little nasty bugger of a film with a young schoolgirls killing one another in surprising and alarming ways. When I first saw it I thought it was a tad exploitative toward women – then a feminist friend told me to relax. “You don’t understand,” she said. “High School is combat for us.”
You’ve certainly heard about the film, now is the time to actually see it.
Series 7: The Contenders (2001); Daniel Minahan, director.
Unlike The Hunger Games, which takes place in a dystopian future, Series 7: The Contenders is set very much in the here and now. Presented in the style of a packaged reality TV show, this flick about civilians picked at random to kill one another was a tiny bit ahead of its time when it came out. I recall there being resistance to seeing “a whole movie shot on video like that.” That is hardly an issue now, so definitely hunt this one down.
Director Dan Minihan has since gone on to direct episodes of all your favorite HBO shows like Game of Thrones, Deadwood and True Blood, and was briefly in contention to direct Thor 2.
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969); Sydney Pollack, director.
Yowza yowza yowza! Get in line to see one of the most nihilistic, depressing tales ever put to celluloid! Be the first to witness man’s brutal inhumanity to man as greed and corruption debase good people into primal barbarians. Yowza yowza yowza! Popcorn, only 5 cents!
If you’ve watched the trailer and are still confused, TSH, DT? is about a group of desperate people taking part in an multi-day endurance “dance marathon.” The scariest thing about this flick is that my grandfather, who survived the Depression, told me that he absolutely remembered things like this happening.
Movie-lovers bonus: this is one of the very few examples of a film being better than its book source material.
The Most Dangerous Game (1932); Irving Pichel and Ernest B. Schoedscack, directors.
First: the word “game” is a pun.
Second: If you should ever get shipwrecked and end up on an island with one lunatic who rambles on and on about hunting, you should probably get back in your trunks and swim on down the line.
This classic tale of “outdoor chess” has been parodied so many times you may think you’ve actually seen it – but maybe haven’t. I put the strange German teaser up top because I liked the narration, but you can watch the whole thing, legally, right here.