Posted on Thursday, February 4th, 2021 by Rob Hunter
(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. This week, we look at some lesser-known gems from a recently passed star.)
It’s been a while since the great Hal Holbrook graced the big screen. He showed up on television here and there, and he starred in a handful of indies over the past few years, but it was Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012) that last saw the graceful, gravelly voiced actor reach millions with his charm and eloquence. Holbrook passed recently at the age of ninety-five and leaves behind a filmography filled with memorable turns in fantastic movies.
Some of his best-known films/performances include All the President’s Men (1976), The Fog (1980), Creepshow (1982), The Firm (1993), and Into the Wild (2007), but while they’re being rightfully celebrated there are plenty more to enjoy despite their far lower profile. They’re not all easily accessible and are instead criminally unavailable, but sometimes good and great things require effort. Or a YouTube search… anyway, keep reading for a look at six underseen films worth watching starring the late, great Hal Holbrook.
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Posted on Wednesday, January 13th, 2021 by Rob Hunter
(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 return once more to the world of Tremors with the sixth (!) sequel, which is currently available on Netflix.)
It’s a new year, and the world of home video sequels continues its slow-motion spread through pop culture. Perhaps fittingly, we start 2021 with a sequel to a long-running franchise that’s now over 30 years old. Impressive! You’d think an article covering a whopping five DTV sequels to the still fantastic Tremors (1990) would be the last word on the topic, but no. Our friends at Universal 1440 Entertainment are back at it with a new entry once again pitting fools against monsters.
And before you ask, yes, of course Michael Gross is back as Graboid hunter extraordinaire, Burt Gummer. Now keep reading for a look at the latest film to feature characters saying the words “ass blaster” with a straight face, Tremors: Shrieker Island!
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Posted on Wednesday, July 29th, 2020 by Rob Hunter
(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. This week, we take a second dip into the world of ‘Deep Blue Sea’ sequels.)
I’m a sucker for killer shark movies, but the great ones represent a small percentage of the sub-genre overall. Most are dull, dumb, and waterlogged in their attempts to entertain and thrill, but none of those descriptors can be applied to Renny Harlin’s 1999 gem, Deep Blue Sea. Okay, maybe it’s a little dumb, but the film remains an absolute blast that entertains through to the very end.
The same cannot be said for the supremely disappointing direct to video sequel from 2018 – which I previously covered in this very column. It’s a bland, uninteresting slog that never entertains or thrills, and it’s the reason anticipation was kept in check when the inevitable second sequel was announced. The lack of title creativity felt like a bad sign, as even Twitter folks suggested the likes of Deep Blue 3ea, Deep Blue Three, and Deep Blue S3a, but I reluctantly dove into the deep end anyway and watched Deep Blue Sea 3.
And it is… good?
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(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. This week, we’re getting our witch on.)
One of the many odd notes that will be attached to this period in American history is one concerning an unprecedented box-office streak. With traditional movie theaters closed for business and studios pushing back their summer releases, a small indie film managed to dominate the box office. The Wretched (2019) is a riff on Fright Night (1985) which itself was inspired by Rear Window (1954), but this time it’s a witch who moves in next door intent on causing all kinds of murderous mayhem.
The movie’s okay – it’s worth it for the practical effects alone – but its success shows in part the eternal appeal of witchy shenanigans for moviegoers. They’ve remained of interest across the past century with popular titles from Haxan (1922), The Wizard of Oz (1939), and Black Sunday (1960) to Hocus Pocus (1993), The Blair Witch Project (1999), and The Witch (2015).
As is evident by the column’s title, though, I’m far more interested in the less popular films that are still every bit worthy of your attention. One example, the fantastically under-appreciated Beautiful Creatures (2013), would have made the cut here had I not already included it on a list of YA adaptations you haven’t seen, but happily I have six more picks equally worthy of inclusion. So keep reading for a look at the best movies you’ve never seen about witches.
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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. This week, we head to Romania with the Countess of Bathory.)
Vampires are a common threat in horror movies, some would say far too common (and yes that someone is me). So it should come as no surprise that they’re also a frequent antagonist in DTV horror sequels. This column has already covered the sequel to 30 Days of Night (2007), and there are more on the horizon. Vampires are a cheap effect as all you typically need are fangs and maybe some digitally enhanced eyes, and you’re off to the bloody races.
Tom Holland’s (Child’s Play, 1988) other horror classic, Fright Night (1985), got a proper sequel three years later that, despite its current unavailability, is actually pretty solid, but the 2011 big screen remake didn’t fare as well. It’s unfortunate, but it’s also the reason we’re here today.
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(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. This week we look back on the career of a late, great acting talent!)
We lose people everyday, but while most of us will be lucky to live on in other people’s memories, actors have a chance at immortality through their films. We lost another one of the greats recently with the passing of Brian Dennehy, but we still have his movies. He worked pretty steadily from 1977 on with a mix of supporting roles and leads, playing big teddy bears and even bigger tough guys, and he was rarely less than memorable.
His best and best-remembered are a mix of films from the 80s and 90s with the likes of First Blood (1982), Cocoon (1985), F/X (1986), Best Seller (1987), Gladiator (1992), and Tommy Boy (1995), while three of my personal favorites include Colin Higgins’ Foul Play (1978), Lawrence Kasdan’s Silverado (1985), and Alan Pacula’s Presumed Innocent (1990). With more than sixty features and over a hundred television appearances, Dennehy has been in plenty of pictures you’ve enjoyed and even more good to great ones you’ve probably never seen. So let’s take a look at six of the latter!
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Posted on Thursday, April 23rd, 2020 by Rob Hunter
(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. This week, we examine a sequel to a Tom Hanks “classic” to see if his absence is for the better or worse.)
While I expect this post to be read and studied for decades to come in universities and Cinemax channel board rooms, it has a very timely poignancy as of its writing. America’s dad, Tom Hanks, recently fell ill with a virus that swept the globe in early 2020, and while he and his lovely wife Rita Wilson pulled through, there was a palpable fear in the air that forced people to imagine a world where saving Mr. Hanks would no longer be a possibility.
It’s a nightmare scenario, but it’s not a new one. In fact, just twelve short years ago the folks at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment did the very same thing – they imagined a world without Tom Hanks, and the result was a sequel to his second box-office hit, 1984’s Bachelor Party. Is it the disaster that most people would have prophesied had they been aware of its existence? Or is this party maybe a little bit more entertaining than its better known predecessor? Let’s find out together as we descend into the depths for a look at Bachelor Party 2: The Last Temptation.
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(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. This week we go point your attention over there while we discuss movies about magicians over here!)
Movies about magicians come in all shapes and varieties. To be clear, I’m speaking of films about the performers, those who do magic tricks and illusions, as opposed to the wizards you find in fantasy films and late-80s Fred Savage movies. They range from documentaries (Make Believe, 2010) to comedies (The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, 2013) to biopics (Death Defying Acts, 2007) to Swedish genre-benders (The Magician, 1958) to BDSM noirs (Lord of Illusions, 1995) to the best movie about a magician you’ll ever find (The Prestige, 2006).
/Film’s own Peter Sciretta previously compiled a list of the best films about magic and magicians which includes a few of the titles mentioned above, but readers of this column know the goal here is to recommend ones that are far less celebrated. To that end, keep reading for a look at six great and/or entertaining movies about magicians that you probably haven’t seen.
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Posted on Thursday, March 12th, 2020 by Rob Hunter
(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. This week, we go hunting for horny aliens.)
Science fiction movies are commonplace, and they typically fall into one of two camps – small, smart, and geared towards adults, or big, bone-headed, and aimed at less discerning audiences. Back in 1995, though, a relative rarity appeared in the form of a summer release with a respectable budget, a recognizable cast including two Oscar winners (and one future nominee), some truly impressive special effects, and a story about government agents trying to cock-block an alien intent on copulation.
Species was a hit on the big screen and on home video, and viewers ate up the genre mashup that gave big, messy sci-fi back to adult audiences with sex, nudity, a wonderfully nonsensical script, and a healthy dose of fun. A sequel followed three years later, but it bombed at the box-office and ended the franchise forever. Just kidding – its theatrical outings stopped, but two DTV sequels followed. Are they cheap cash-grabs and lazy excuses to show more alien booty, or is there a chance they’re actually worthy successors?
Let’s find out together.
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Posted on Friday, February 28th, 2020 by Rob Hunter
(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. This week we go looking for little-seen movies featuring invisibility!)
This week’s big new release is a fresh take on a classic – a Universal Monsters classic to be precise – but while Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man finds its own identity by playing around with the formula, plenty of other films have followed similar paths to entirely different destinations. What started with James Whales’ 1933 classic grew to include direct sequels and plenty of films that found inspiration in the H.G. Wells adaptation.
The plot point of people turning invisible has been through numerous iterations, from Kurt Russell’s college shenanigans for Disney in Now You See Him, Now You Don’t (1972) to Paul Verhoeven’s decidedly R-rated horrors in Hollow Man (2000) to even raunchier fare like The Erotic Adventures of the Invisible Man (2003). But you know all of those, so how about we take a look at some entertaining examples you’ve most likely missed over the years?
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