6. Frailty
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Release Date: 2001

Genre: Horror

Director: Bill Paxton

Cast: Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Powers Boothe, Matt O’Leary, Jeremy Sumpter, Levi Kreis

The late, great Bill Paxton made his directorial debut with Frailty, and what an amazing debut it was. Paxton would only direct one other film before his death, and it’s a damn shame that he never helmed a horror film again, because he clearly had a lot to offer the genre. Frailty is the story of two brothers (Matt O’Leary and Jeremy Sumpter) in the 1970s who are suddenly thrust into a nightmarish situation: their beloved father (Paxton) says he’s been chosen by God to kill demons. These demons are disguised as normal people, however, which leads to Paxton abducting seemingly normal people and slaughtering them with an axe as his children watch, horrified. It’s dark, twisted stuff, and Paxton finds ways to milk both horror and familial drama from the story.

For fans of: StokerA Simple PlanThe Machinist, pre-McConaissance Matthew McConaughey.

7. King Kong
Now Streaming on Netflix

Release Date: 2005

Genre: Very long adventure/remake

Director: Peter Jackson

Cast: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Colin Hanks, Jamie Bell, Evan Parke, Kyle Chandler, Andy Serkis

Alright, yes – Peter Jackson‘s King Kong remake did not need to be so long. And yes, some of the plot elements – what the hell is that Mr. Hayes/Jimmy subplot? – are rubbish. But gosh darn it, I can’t help but appreciate Jackson’s Kong. What I love most about the film is that it’s an example of something that doesn’t seem to happen much anymore: the big, possibly foolish dream project made possible by a previous hit. After Jackson’s Lord of the Rings became so huge, he had clout to do whatever the hell he wanted in Hollywood, and what he wanted to do was make a really long King Kong remake. It reminds me of how Gus Van Sant used his Good Will Hunting good will to make a shot-for-shot remake of Psycho. I keep waiting for a Marvel director to use their clout to get a big, audacious dream-project made, but so far, it hasn’t happened. Jackson’s King Kong takes all the elements of the original film, and cranks them up to 11. At the center of it all is Naomi Watts, who is just a delight to watch. Jack Black is also surprisingly strong as a megalomaniac filmmaker hell bent on getting his picture made, no matter how many people get killed in the process. Nestled in all this over-long madness are some stellar action sequences and some genuinely charming moments – Kong sliding around on a frozen pond in Central Park is enchanting, I don’t care what anyone says.

For fans of: Jurassic Park, Kong: Skull Island, the good old days when Peter Jackson knew how to use CGI for good instead of evil.

8. Sleeping With Other People
Now Streaming on Netflix

Release Date: 2015

Genre: Romantic comedy

Director: Leslye Headland

Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Adam Scott, Jason Mantzoukas, Natasha Lyonne, Adam Brody, Amanda Peet

Most modern romantic comedies are, well…bad. They’re neither funny nor romantic, and rely on cheap jokes and even cheaper storytelling. Which makes Sleeping With Other People a breath of fresh air. Leslye Headland‘s rom-com is funny and surprisingly sexy – no easy feat. Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie play two people trying to maintain a strictly platonic relationship, but that’s easier said than done since they both have the hots for each other. This plot could’ve descended into something forgettable or, worse, stupid. But there’s a surprising sweetness to Sleeping With Other People. Best of all, it knows how to create sexy moments that never feel cheap or exploitative. Sudeikis makes a surprisingly charming leading man (who knew?), and Brie is her usual wonderful self. The duo work well together, and the attraction between them feels genuine. Simply put, Sleeping With Other People is the cure for the modern rom-com.

For fans of: TrainwreckForgetting Sarah Marshall, Alison Brie dancing to David Bowie’s “Modern Love” while high on ecstasy.

9. Cat’s Eye
Now Streaming on Shudder

Release Date: 1985

Genre: Horror anthology

Director: Lewis Teague

Cast: Drew Barrymore, James Woods, Alan King, Kenneth McMillan, Robert Hays, Candy Clark

Cat’s Eye is the other Stephen King horror anthology film from the ’80s. It’s not as memorable as Creepshow, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun. Three stories unfold – one about a man (James Woods) trying to quit smoking, with deadly results!; one about a man (Robert Hays) forced out onto the ledge of a skyscraper by his lover’s husband, with deadly results!; and one about a young girl (Drew Barrymore) being tormented by a troll, with deadly results! All three stories have one main connection: a cat. The cat ends up traveling from one story to the next, playing a minor part in the first two tales before getting a starring role in the last. None of these stories are the most memorable things Stephen King has written, but they have his usual style and energy.

For fans of: CreepshowTales From the Darkside: The MovieThe Twilight Zone: The Movie, deadly results!

10. The Wraith
Now Streaming on Shudder

Release Date: 1986

Genre: Stupid

DirectorMike Marvin

Cast: Charlie Sheen, Nick Cassavetes, Sherilyn Fenn, Randy Quaid

Some movies are good, and some movies are The Wraith. This amazingly dumb movie is about a gang of drag racing hoodlums who find themselves targeted by a mysterious driver in a strange, killer car. Is the driver an alien and is the car a spaceship? Is it a ghost? Does any of this make sense? No, it doesn’t. You may be thinking, “Listen, asshole, I don’t have time to watch bad movies on purpose.” But I swear to you – watching The Wraith is worth your time. It’s one of those gloriously strange, gloriously bad movies that you watch and wonder, “How did this get made?” This is the type of film where characters say things like, “Roadblocks won’t stop something that can’t be stopped!”

For fans of: Getting drunk and watching movies about killer cars.

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