The Best Killer-Cat 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. This week we look at savage felines big and small but mostly big!)

Culture and horror cinema is filled with references to cats being the demon spawn of the pet world, and until recently I saw no reason to disagree. We brought home two black kittens that had been found in a dumpster, and they’ve thanked us by being adorable, playful, and loving… while still being the demon spawn of the pet world.

Still, though, there aren’t a lot of great movies about killer housecats. Sure they pop up in anthology films like The Uncanny (1977), Cat’s Eye (1985), and Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), but they don’t make for a great core threat. A few minutes with Uninvited (1988) or Strays (1991) are more than enough to prove as much. Thankfully there are bigger cats like lions, tigers, and pumas, oh my. Popular, well-known horror movies focused on big cats include The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) and… that’s it really? They show up hungry in movies as diverse as Day of the Animals (1977) and The Jungle Book (2016), but movies focused on killer cats? They’re out there.

Keep reading for a look at six good to great horror movies about ferocious felines thirsty for blood!

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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 travel deep into the bowels of hell for the first three – of six! – DTV sequels to Clive Barker’s Hellraiser.)

“I have seen the future of horror, and his name is Clive Barker,” said Stephen King about the young Brit’s six-volume collection of horror tales, Books of Blood, and Barker never looked back. More stories and novels followed, and he quickly found himself offered the directorial reins adapting one of his own novellas, “The Hellbound Heart.” The budget was low, but Barker’s imagination and audacity were limitless, making Hellraiser (1987) a blast of S&M-tinged horror the likes of which we had never really seen before. Demons in bondage gear and body piercings, a lusty woman willing to kill for her undead lover, a homeless dude at the end who I spent years thinking was Barker in a cameo role… Limited filmmaking experience and budgetary restrictions be damned! Barker crafted something truly memorable here.

Barker created multiple monsters with the film, but his most eternal creation appears to have been the franchise itself. Nine sequels followed, and while the first two were pretty good and the third also played theatrically, the next six went deservedly straight to DVD. Well, I say deservedly, but I had never actually watched them.

Until now! So join me, won’t you, as I foolishly subject myself to the first three DTV sequels with increasingly stupid titles – Hellraiser: Inferno, Hellraiser: Hellseeker, and Hellraiser: Deader.

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‘Kindergarten Cop 2’ Gets an F

(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 back to school… again!)

The 1980s were heaven for action movie fans, and one of the biggest onscreen talents bringing violence and quips to the multiplexes was Arnold Schwarzenegger. As the decade wound down, he began mixing up his action hits with comedies including Twins (1988), Junior (1994), and Jingle All the Way (1996), but his highest-grossing comedy – and not-so-coincidentally his best – is 1990’s Kindergarten Cop.

I won’t pretend that Ivan Reitman’s film is a comedy classic on par with the likes of his Ghostbusters (1984) or Dave (1993), but Kindergarten Cop is still a very funny, terrifically cast, and satisfying romp. It’s a fun watch! The DTV sequel that showed up 27 years later like some kind of low-rent Pennywise the Clown? There’s not a damn thing that’s fun about Kindergarten Cop 2 (2017).

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The Best Offshore 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. This week we get our feet wet with some underappreciated horrors on the open water!)

Horror can unfold anywhere, but there’s something especially unnerving about nightmares at sea. Traveling by boat can be a lonely affair under even the best conditions as you’re cut off physically from the outside world, and that can be the case whether or not you’re alone. Add natural threats like sharks, sunstroke, and the disorienting effect of thirst and things get even worse. But toss in horror elements and it becomes something altogether more frightening. There’s nowhere to run when you’re surrounded by water.

Jaws (1975) is the best the genre has to offer, but there are plenty of other examples delivering thrills and chills. Virus (1999), Ghost Ship (2002), and even Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) are all varying degrees of fun, but they’re just the tip of the offshore horror iceberg.

Keep reading for a look at six good to great movies you’ve probably never seen about boat-set horrors.

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The Best Time Travel 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. This week we go time-hopping with some underappreciated movies about time travel!)

Time travel is a peculiar thing. In movies, I mean, not real life where we all do it every single day from one second to the next. The story ideas built on its back have resulted in several of our favorite films over the years including Back to the Future, Predestination, Edge of Tomorrow, Time Bandits, Primer, Edge of Tomorrow, The Terminator, Looper, and Edge of Tomorrow. The very concept, though, is prone to all manner of inconsistencies, plot holes, and head-scratchers, and you’d be hard-pressed to find an example of a time travel movie without at least a single frustrating paradox.

So why bother trying? Instead, we’re going to take a look at six more great time travel movies that entertain despite not catching on with the general public. They’re lesser known but not less worthy of your time. See what I did there? You’re welcome.

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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 see what all the buzz is about with this Candyman guy who just might be on the cusp of a high-profile remake.)

One of the big movie news items this week – more of a rumor actually – was the report that Oscar winner Jordan Peele may be remaking Candyman. It’s unclear if he’s just producing or if he’ll write and/or direct the film too, and it’s equally unknown if it will be a straight remake or if they’ll go back to the source of Clive Barker’s short story “The Forbidden.” Hell, it might not even be true at all. The only thing we know for sure is that Candyman is a fantastic horror film blending new mythology, bloodletting, and some fascinating observations on race and social issues.

Not nearly enough people have seen it (or heard Philip Glass’ brilliantly memorable score), and even fewer have watched the less-inspired sequel that followed in theaters three years later. And four years after that? No one even noticed another sequel go straight to DVD.

But that’s why I’m here – to remind you that these things exist. So keep reading for a look at 1999’s Candyman: Day of the Dead, and together we’ll discover if it’s worth seeking out before Peele’s remake maybe, possibly comes along.

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The Best Diamond Heist 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.)

Ocean’s 8 hits home video next week, and while I’m not the biggest fan of the film I’m always happy to see another heist movie. (I’ve even done one of these on oddball heist films!) They’re typically organized by charismatic criminals who make elaborate plans and try to avoid violence, and while they’re still crooks they’re usually the film’s protagonists. Audiences actively root for the crime to be a success, and that’s an attitude you just don’t see enough of in this country.

There are plenty of beloved examples in the subgenre from classics like To Catch a Thief (1955) and Rififi (1974) to more modern gems like A Fish Called Wanda (1988) and Snatch (2000), but there are also plenty of entertaining ones that haven’t quite found an audience. So how about I steal some of your time to share some examples of those diamonds in the rough?

Keep reading for a look at six good to great diamond heist movies you’ve probably never seen (but should).

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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 bite down hard on two sequels to Robert Rodriguez’s vampire/crime genre mash-up From Dusk Till Dawn.)

The ’90s were a wild time in Hollywood, and few production companies embodied that like Miramax. There were far bigger crimes going on behind their walls, from assault to the intentional buying and burying of foreign films, but their Dimension label also made a lucrative business out of sequelizing horror movies that really didn’t need a sequel. Children of the Corn, The Crow, Mimic, The Prophecy, and more all became franchises thanks to underwhelming follow-ups that almost exclusively went straight to video. We’ll get to those eventually, but this week’s DTV Descent is about to get busy with some vampires.

Keep reading for a look at the two sequels – okay fine, one’s a prequel, but let’s not get stuck on the details – to Robert Rodriguez’s 1996 action/horror/comedy From Dusk Till Dawn. Do either of them explain why the heroes on the posters are always left-handed? Does Danny Trejo play the same character in all three films? And most importantly, is it true – in a startling break with this column’s track record – that one of these movies is actually pretty damn 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. In this edition, we go swimming in bad milk. Not like, evil milk, but milk that’s gone bad at the hands of man. More specifically, it’s… milk… poisoning!)

If you’re like me, you spend a few minutes each day thinking about Joan Fontaine. Not in a weird way, of course, but with a respectful appreciation for her acting talents, her wit (as evidenced in her autobiography No Bed of Roses), and the playful look in her eyes teasing the curious intelligence behind. From her star-making turn in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940) to her battle with the supernatural in The Witches (1966), she was an unforgettable talent.

So what does she have to do with milk?

Fontaine won an Oscar for her performance in Hitchcock’s Suspicion (1941) – the only nomination for acting his films ever received – and one of the film’s most famous scenes involves poisoned milk. Well, she suspects it’s poisoned anyway, and Hitchcock shoots the hell out of it with ominous angles, increasing tension, and a small light hidden in the glass to make it glow against the black & white photography. It’s a nerve-wracking scene as we wonder and worry that her suspicions may be correct, but while it’s the most well-known sequence involving milk poisoning, it’s not the only one.

See? That wasn’t a convoluted journey at all. Now let’s take a look at some other good to great movies featuring poisoned milk.

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Modern Puppet Movies

Puppets have been around as long as people have, and while I have no proof to back up that claim, I think it’s safe to say that our ancestors were playing with puppets from the very first time one of them shoved their hand into a mammoth’s recently slurped duodenum. Even Neanderthals enjoyed a good night out with dinner and a show. The obvious fun of talking with your hands continued through the years and cultures, and when cinema reared its newborn head in the early 20th century, it came complete with hands working everything from traditional puppets to marionettes controlled via strings.

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