The Best Private Eye 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 sees us dig into the gumshoe game with a look at some private eye flicks worth seeking out.)

A new Sherlock Holmes film opens later this month, and while it’s one played almost exclusively for laughs its core element — a private detective solves a mystery! — remains intact. Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1887 creation is probably the most famous such character, but his (probable) inspiration and “American” private eye type as we know and love it actually arrived three decades earlier from the mind of Edgar Allan Poe. It’s true! His amateur crime-solver has inspired numerous others in the many decades since, and while C. Auguste Dupin has a very limited presence on the big screen others have made the leap and gifted viewers with some truly incredible films ranging from suspense to comedies to dramatic thrillers.

Harper (1966), Klute (1971), Chinatown (1974), Night Moves (1975), and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) are some of the best there are, and if you’ve yet to see any of them I suggest you make it a priority to fix that sooner rather than later. For now, though, I want to recommend a few that aren’t considered classics and deserve to be a bit more popular.

Keep reading for a look at six very good to great movies about private eyes that you’ve probably never seen.

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The Best Werewolf 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 things get hairy as we go digging for some underseen werewolf gems!)

There are seemingly thousands of movies about vampires and zombies, but for some reason the werewolf doesn’t quite warrant the same degree of ubiquity. It’s arguably the cooler creature, but therein rests the reason why there are so few werewolf movies – and even fewer good to great ones. You can’t just toss some plastic teeth in an actor’s mouth or paint their skin gray. Werewolves require prosthetic effects/transformations, and they don’t come cheap. (Well, usually.) The advent and availability of inexpensive CG has seen a minor burst in the sub-genre in recent years, but quality-wise they’re more hairballs than hairy nightmares.

If the top tier of great werewolf films features An American Werewolf in London (1981), The Howling (1981), and Universal’s The Wolf Man (1941) then the next includes killer but less popular movies like Silver Bullet (1985), Bad Moon (1996), Ginger Snaps (2000), Dog Soldiers (2002), and Late Phases (2014). And then what? Seventy or so mostly forgettable tales of lycanthropes on the prowl? Yes, but there are also a handful of good ones you’ve probably missed! And I shouldn’t have to say this, but after seeing far, far too many lists including them I’m going to remind you that, while great, neither Wolfen (1981) nor Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) are werewolf movies.

Keep reading for a look at six good to great – and even lesser known – werewolf movies that deserve a bite out of your time.

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Movies About Inheritances

(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 thankful we don’t have wealthy relatives as we take a look at movies about the untimely deaths that come before and after inheritances!)

Inheritances are something I’ll never have to actually deal with, sadly, but I still love seeing them used on plot set-ups in movies. They’re a great way to bring disparate characters together with a common goal, and while the films can cross genres from comedy to horror, their shared theme of absolute greed ruling the day is a fascinating motivator. One of my favorites is 1994’s Greedy, but everyone’s seen that comedic gem – yes, I said comedic gem – and if you haven’t you should remedy that immediately. The cast offers up a wealth of funny with Michael J.Fox, Kirk Douglas, Colleen Camp, Ed Begley Jr., Bob Balaban, and more bringing the laughs, but all of them bow before the godlike skills of the late Phil Hartman.

But to the point of this column, there are plenty more that may not get the same kind of play on cable or feature the same caliber of big name stars but still deliver the goods. I’ve listed six below, but fair warning, only the first few feature any degree of comedy. The rest are darker, grimmer, and bloodier.

Keep reading for a look at the best movies you probably haven’t seen about inheritances that leave some people richer and other people dead.

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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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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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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 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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Human Hybrid Movies

(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 mix it up with a look at movies featuring people who cross their DNA streams with non-people, with typically unfortunate results.)

I’m always eyeballs deep in genre movies, but with The Meg opening this weekend I’ve been digging into animal-related horror films a bit more. One of the best mentioned throughout my online travels is David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986) starring Jeff Goldblum as a scientist turned Brundlefly. It’s a phenomenal movie – horrifying, emotional grim, and utterly disgusting at times – and it got me thinking about other movies featuring some manner of human/? hybrids. The hybrid element can be anything from animal to vegetable to mineral, and it can be accomplished genetically (Splice), surgically (Tusk), through good old-fashioned fornication (Species), or even via a bite ,as werewolves and vampires are technically hybrids too.

The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977, 1996) is probably the most well-known with its island of lost souls howling their half human/half animal hearts out through the jungle, but plenty more have appeared on screen with decidedly less fanfare and staying power. The premise of people being enhanced, lessened, or changed altogether with the addition of some other form of life is an intriguing one, but I’m also the guy who enjoys Manimal and Automan – both short-lived TV series from 1983 featuring hybrid heroes – so maybe it’s just my own questionable tastes. Let’s find out together, shall we?

Keep reading for a look at some of the best movies you haven’t seen featuring human/something hybrids!

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The Best Faux-Documentaries 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. In this edition, we explore movies that pretend to be true despite clearly not being true unless they’re actually true?!)

Documentaries are snapshots of real life and narrative films tell stories (true or otherwise) in fictional form, but resting somewhere in between the two sits the faux-documentary. They come in all manner of shapes, sizes, and genres, but the overwhelming majority seem to be comedies. From This Is Spinal Tap (1984) to Best in Show (2000), reality gets mocked quite a bit – hence the term mockumentary – but there are serious ones too including Punishment Park (1971) and Death of a President (2006).

There are also horror-themed ones including Noroi: The Curse (2005) and The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007) though they’re often lumped incorrectly in with found footage films. Incorrectly because while found footage is exactly that – footage that’s been supposedly discovered and presented as is (hence the usual long, dull build-up to the final minutes where something frightening actually happens) – fake docs are properly edited for official release, include interviews, and feature music scores.

Keep reading for a look at six great “documentaries” you probably haven’t seen.

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