The Best “Last” Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen

last jedi

(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 take a look at some of the best movies you’ve probably never seen that feature the word “Last” in the title.)

A little movie called Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters this weekend, and while I don’t typically like to show off my box-office prognostication skills, I predict that it’s going to do pretty well. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and predict it will end up the highest-grossing film featuring the word “Last” in its title. But does that make it the best? That will be up to each individual viewer to decide, of course, but having seen it, I’m happy to say it’s definitely in the top 20 “Last” movies.

As arbitrary groupings go, this one is home to several fantastic films. The Last of the Mohicans, The Last Picture Show, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Last Starfighter… the list goes on. They’re not all such well-loved classics, though, as some smaller titles have been lost to the shuffles of time. The Last Circus and The Last Wave are both worth seeking out, but I’ve included them in this column before as part of other categories. So the question becomes are there six more good to great movies that you probably haven’t seen with the word “Last” in the title? What am I, an amateur?

Keep reading for a look at six good to great – and otherwise unrelated – films you probably haven’t seen featuring the word “Last” in their titles.

last of sheila

The Last of Sheila (1973)

One year after a socialite is killed in a hit and run her widower husband invites six friends aboard his yacht for a week-long mystery cruise in the south of France. The game quickly reveals some personal connections to the players, and the group grows more cautious when an apparent attempt is made on one of their lives. The next murder attempt succeeds, and those left behind are left with a far more pressing mystery to solve.

Look at that cast! Richard Benjamin, Dyan Cannon, James Coburn, James Mason, Ian McShane, and Raquel Welch lead the way through a film that’s alternately playful and grim. They all do good to great work, but Benjamin and Mason are the stand-outs with turns that go deeper than their otherwise simple characterizations would suggest. Each of the characters is hiding a secret, some minor and some more serious, but ego and personality leave them acting above the fray and entertaining viewers along the way.

The cast is the initial draw here, but the script by Stephen Sondheim (Sweeney Todd) and Anthony Perkins – yes, that Anthony Perkins – is a slick and twisty ride that offers up a fully engaging mystery that holds attention and encourages viewer participation. Clues are visible throughout, and as the characters themselves start offering up theories it’s fun to play along with their deductions. Director Herbert Ross (The Seven-Per-Cent Solution) gives the film an energetic feel both on and off the yacht. His camera loves both the cast and their surroundings, and he even teases some slasher characteristics with scenes from the pov of the killer. It’s a fun movie that builds to a captivating ending.

Buy The Last of Sheila on DVD from Amazon or rent via Amazon Video.

last dinosaur

The Last Dinosaur (1977)

An oil exploration company discovers something strange on their latest expedition – a passageway into a prehistoric landscape! Four people died on an initial visit, and now five more are heading into the unknown in search of dinosaurs.

Look, this late ’70s television movie has some obvious limitations, but it’s still more entertaining than two of the four Jurassic Park films. Honest. It’s a Rankin/Bass Production – the folks behind your favorite stop-motion Christmas specials (The Year Without a Santa Claus) and the best Hobbit adaptation – and they bring some of their magic to the creatures here. Some of it is animation, but the film also creates low-budget magic with miniatures, guys in dinosaur suits, and optical effects.

This was a favorite of mine as a kid, and I watched it on many Saturday afternoons along with similar fare like The Land That Time Forgot. A recent re-watch has revealed more of its budgetary flaws, but the charm remains between the effects work and the adventure itself. We get dinosaur fights, a tribe of not-quite Neanderthals, extinct flora and fauna, and more. The cast is as limited as you’d expect, but Richard Boone (Have Gun Will Travel) does charismatic work as the big-game hunter hoping to bag a T-Rex. He’s ultimately the “last dinosaur” of the title, and while that’s the extent of the subtext, it’s still more than you’ll find in Jurassic World. Honest.

Buy The Last Dinosaur on DVD from Amazon.

last supper

The Last Supper (1995)

Most murders are impulsive affairs, but for one group of liberal friends it’s something born out of serious thought. The graduate students begin inviting conservative guests to dinner, and after excitable bouts of conversation, they off the right-wing visitors and bury them in the back yard. The good times can’t last forever though.

Movies don’t typically dig into one side or the other of the political divide unless they’re prepared to fully commit to a viewpoint, but while this black comedy seems fully invested into its characters’ left-leaning beliefs, the third act surprises with a balanced turn towards common sense. It’s a deadly journey to reach those truths, and while initial deaths are expected, the script offers ups some unexpected turns and outcomes.

You may not agree with the five friends’ (or their guests’) partisan views, but the cast does a fantastic job of selling their characters regardless of which side they’re on. Cameron Diaz, Ron Eldard, Annabeth Gish, and Courtney B. Vance play the libs while Ron Perlman, Mark Harmon, Bill Paxton, and others tease aggressively opposing viewpoints. The film ultimately finds balance even if most of the characters refuse to, and the performances go a long way towards crafting a cruelly entertaining comedy/thriller.

Buy The Last Supper on DVD from Amazon or rent via Amazon Video.

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