The Best World War I 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 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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The Best Biopics You’ve Never Seen

Borg McEnroe

(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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The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen About Bounty Hunters

(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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The Best Horror Movies of the Decade You’ve Never Seen

Best Horror Movies of the Decade 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 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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The Best Prison-Set 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 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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The Best Fantastic Fest 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 celebrate Fantastic Fest’s 15th anniversary with a look at some of the best films that played over the years that failed to find the audience they deserved.)

As mentioned above – literally just two lines up – this year’s Fantastic Fest Film Festival in Austin, TX is their 15th, and that’s something worth celebrating. It remains one of the best genre festivals in North America thanks to the venue, the fans, and most importantly, the wide variety of movies programmed each year. They play their fair share of bigger movies destined for wide release with the likes of Jojo Rabbit and Knives Out opening and closing this year’s fest, but the magic is in the far smaller titles.

The fest programs films from around the world and across genres, and while some eventually find their way to a proper US release – Rubber (2010) is about a sentient, homicidal tire and is available on Blu-ray! – just as many are rarely (if ever) seen on these shores again. As a big fan of genre films (horror, action, thrillers, dark comedy, etc) I’ve been introduced to numerous films and filmmakers over the years thanks to Fantastic Fest. Keep reading for a look at six of my favorites that never quite found the eyeballs and acclaim they deserve.

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The Hunt Betty Gilpin

(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’s column is a response to the recent shelving of a movie that’s been made previously many, many times before.)

As you’ve undoubtedly heard, a studio film scheduled for nation-wide release was recently pulled from Universal’s schedule in response to a tweet by the president and a vocal outcry by conservative pundits and followers. The detractors are misinformed as to the point of The Hunt (2019?) – and they seem to be equally oblivious as to how these films end (ie the intended targets defeat the merciless killers) – but the bigger head-scratcher is their general obliviousness that the film is just the latest variation in a long line of adaptations of “The Most Dangerous Game.”

Richard Connell’s acclaimed short story was published in 1924, and its tale of a man captured by a mad aristocratic sportsman and hunted as the most challenging prey quickly caught the public’s attention. The first adaptation for the screen arrived eight years later, and many more followed both official and unofficial including John Woo’s ridiculously fun Hard Target (1993), the soft-ish-core porn of The Suckers (1972), the Rutger Hauer-starring Surviving the Game (1994), and the gloriously bonkers Turkey Shoot (1982).

You know those, though, so I’m here to introduce some entertaining and/or engaging examples that you’ve probably missed over the years. The connective line between them is that, unlike a slasher where a killer stalks and kills unknowing victims, these Game riffs see people target and alert their prey for the clear intention of enjoying a hunt. So keep reading for the best “adaptations” of The Most Dangerous Game that you’ve probably never seen.

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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’s column shines a light on films featuring actors whose careers have become equally obscure and forgotten.)

Quentin Tarantino’s 10th film is currently in theaters, and its inexplicable attitude towards Bruce Lee aside, it’s a warm, affectionate, and extremely entertaining Hollywood daydream. It’s an ensemble film, but at its center sits a character named Rick Dalton — an aging actor a few years past his greatest success, still struggling as both a person and an artist. Actors are a fairly common character-type in movies, and Rick belongs in the subset of washed-up has-beens desperately hanging on in pursuit of relevance.

He’s in good company too as Hollywood and its cousins have gifted film fans with numerous gems on the subject. From Sunset Boulevard (1950) to Clouds of Sils Maria (2014), and from Theatre of Blood (1973) to JCVD (2008), it’s a character and a story we never tire of seeing brought to life on the screen. Movie stars are icons beyond our reach, but people struggling in their everyday lives and careers? Why, they’re just like us!

All of the films mentioned above are worth seeing or re-watching, but I’m here to recommend some great examples you probably missed. Keep reading for a look at six great lesser-known movies about washed-up actors.

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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’s column offers up a primer on the varied complications that arise when you attempt to overthrow the government.)

The United States just celebrated this year’s Fourth of July holiday, and for many it’s a day off from work and for others it’s an excuse to placate their inner pyromaniac, but the historical backdrop involves one of the world’s most important coup d’état… of sorts. Obviously those of us in the US view it as a fight for independence, and sure, the Revolutionary War wasn’t technically a coup d’état as the Americans didn’t seek to overthrow and replace the British government, but they did act with the express purpose of unseating those in power here in what would become the US.

Is it semantics? Maybe. But it’s enough of a reason to jump-start this week’s look at underseen movies about coups d’état both successful and attempted. Some of the best known include John Frankenheimer’s Seven Days in May (1964), the Tom Cruise-starring Valkyrie (2008), and Costa-Gavras’ heartbreaking and true Missing (1982). One of my personal favorites is 2015’s No Escape which takes an entertainingly Cannon Films-like approach to its near xenophobia and over-the-top violence. You know the drill by now, though, meaning that while those are the popular ones we’re here to talk about ones far less appreciated.

Keep reading for a look at the best movies you’ve never seen about coups d’état!

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The Best Killer Dog 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’s column is going to the dogs.)

This weekend’s theatrical offerings include two heavy hitting sequels in the form of John Wick: Chapter 3 and A Dog’s Journey. The two don’t share much in common plot-wise, but both feature scenes of dogs viciously attacking gun-toting baddies. Probably. I haven’t actually seen A Dog’s Journey, but I am pretty darn good at making educated guesses.

Dog attacks are a common enough occurrence in both real life and cinema, but there really aren’t that many films making the dogs, the attacks, and the threat of attack the key focus of the movie. When you think “dog attack” flicks you most likely land on one of the big dogs of the subgenre – the foolish dogs who dare stand against Joe Don Baker in The Pack (1977), the racist mutt in White Dog (1982), the pitiable canine in Cujo (1983), or the Terminator-like pooch in Man’s Best Friend (1993). These are all solid movies, but they’re not the only ones to find terror at the wrong end of our four-legged friends.

Keep reading for a look at the best killer dog movies you’ve probably never seen!

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