(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 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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(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 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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Posted on Friday, February 14th, 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 celebrate Bong Joon Ho’s big win at the Academy Awards with his masterpiece ‘Parasite’ by looking back at some lesser known gems from South Korea.)
History was made recently when a non-English language film won Best Picture at the Oscars for the very first time. Parasite absolutely deserves the honor, but even better, the win is moving people toward seeking out other South Korean films too.
Danielle Ryan already put together a fantastic primer featuring some of South Korea’s best known and beloved modern classics, and every one of them are worth finding and watching immediately. I’d add to that list a few more popular gems including Memories of Murder (2003), The Chaser (2008), The Good the Bad the Weird (2008), The Housemaid (2010), The Villainess (2017), and Extreme Job (2019), and I’ll also toss in a few lower profile titles I’ve previously highlighted with this very column including The Foul King (2000), Sex Is Zero (2002), Save the Green Planet (2003), 3-Iron (2004), The President’s Last Bang (2005), Breathless (2008), Private Eye (2009), Confession of Murder (2012), The Thieves (2012), Hwayi: A Monster Boy (2013), Confidential Assignment (2017), A Taxi Driver (2017), and – look, I’ve recommended a lot of Korean films through this column.
And I’m about to suggest six more across varied genres, so please keep reading for a look at six of the best South Korean films you probably haven’t seen yet!
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Posted on Friday, January 10th, 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 back in time with some movies set during the war to end all wars.)
World War I doesn’t get as much love in theaters as its younger brother World War II, and while there’s no good reason for that I assume it’s simply because WWII offers a greater variety of locales and military hardware to explore. There have been some acclaimed ones over the years, though, from All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) to Paths of Glory (1957) and from A Very Long Engagement (2004) to Mata Hari (1985). Fine, one of those wasn’t quite as acclaimed as the others, but I’m just making sure you’re paying attention.
While the death toll ranges depending on your Google source — seriously, I found numbers from nine to twenty-five million — there’s a reason it was called “the war to end war.” Sure, that was a bit presumptuous, but the point remains that it was an epic conflict involving tens of millions of lives. You’d think we’d have more stories up on the big screen, but in lieu of quantity we at least have quality starting with Sam Mendes’ beautiful and brilliantly structured 1917 which is currently in limited release and absolutely worth your time. While you wait for that one to expand into your area, though, might I recommend a few older titles? I might, and I will if you keep reading.
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Posted on Monday, December 30th, 2019 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 check out some under-seen movies about real people like you and me, but you know, better known for doing stuff.)
The end of the year is often considered to be prestige season when it comes to movies as studios roll out their classiest films in the hope of winning awards and accolades. The topics run the gamut, but a major presence every year are the biopics — as in pictures about biological humans, presumably — and this year is no different. Richard Jewell, Harriet, Seberg, and Ford v Ferrari are just a few of the biopics opening in the last two months of 2019, and some of them are even well worth the praise they’ve been receiving. (Hint: it’s the one with the fast cars.)
Not all biopics have been as lucky, though, as a crowded field over the years has seen plenty of great ones fade into memory. That’s right, I’m still furious that so many of you slept on the masterpiece that is Borg vs McEnroe (2017). Lucky for you I’m here to point you towards a few of those lesser seen gems. So keep reading for a look at six of the best biopics you’ve probably never seen!
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Posted on Wednesday, November 20th, 2019 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 take inspiration from a new streaming series that everyone’s talking about and explore some under-seen and under-loved tales about bounty hunters.)
The odds are pretty good that you’ve heard about the new Disney+ series The Mandalorian by now. It’s about a guy who wears a helmet to work only to discover that the helmet is actually wearing him. Heavy, right? He’s a bounty hunter tasked with bringing in certain beings, dead or alive, but he grows a conscience when asked to kill…something. I don’t know, I’ve only seen vague tweets so far, but the point is that it’s not easy being a bounty hunter.
It’s a perfectly legal career built on committing violent abductions for money, and that’s a character trait tailor made for the screen. The movies have embraced tales about bounty hunters over the years starting with westerns before moving into more modern crime stories and beyond, and while the character has become a character type it’s also resulted in movies ranging from great ones like Midnight Run (1988), True Grit (1969/2010), and Slow West (2015) to fun ones like Trancers (1985) and Wanted: Dead or Alive (1986).
Of course, there are some that fall into those two categories that have also fallen between the cracks, and that’s where this column comes in – keep reading for the best movies you’ve never seen about bounty hunters!
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Posted on Thursday, October 31st, 2019 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 celebrate spooky movie season with a look at the best under-seen horror movies of the decade.)
Horror movies are worth watching year-round, but October and Halloween lend the genre an extra weight as audiences seek out chills and thrills to share with friends late into the night. The rise of streaming sites means an abundance of options are available at our fingertips, and while that’s good news it also means sometimes it’s easier to re-watch a favorite instead of taking a chance on finding something new. But you can find new favorites!
My brother from another set of parents all together, Matt Donato, is putting together a ranking of the decade’s – 2010 to 2019 – best horror movies here at /film, and while only about half of them actually belong on the list (don’t tell Matt I said that) it’s still a fantastic resource. Regular readers of this column, though, know that my aim is to highlight great movies that aren’t typically well-known enough to make those kinds of lists (like 2012’s ridiculously fun Dead Sushi, pictured above) so I’ve done just that and found six terrific horror films from this decade that aren’t among his 100.
Keep reading for a look at some of the best horror movies of the decade that you’ve probably never seen!
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Posted on Friday, October 11th, 2019 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 behind bars for a look at great films that take place in jails, prisons, and other places of involuntary incarceration.)
Most of us will never spend time behind bars, incarcerated for a crime we did or didn’t commit, and that lack of first-hand experience might be part of what makes movies about prison life so popular. They come in all forms and genres from Stephen King-penned (The Shawshank Redemption, 1994) to horror (Prison, 1987) to comedy (The Longest Yard, 1974) to exploitation (The Big Bird Cage, 1972) to action (Boyka: Undisputed, 2016) to the effortlessly engaging and entertaining (Cool Hand Luke, 1967), but not all of them get the attention they deserve.
So consider this a down and dirty primer on some less popular prison movies that are all well worth your time despite their absence from the general conversation.
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