The 12 Best Unique Movies You Probably Haven’t Seen

by John Hawkins | August 21, 2008 5:54 am

I’m a big fan of off-the-wall movies and with that in mind, I thought I’d suggest a few movies you’ve probably never seen before that aren’t the standard movie schlock. (Descriptions cribbed from Netflix[1])

Battle Royale: Kinji Fukasaki’s explosive drama takes place early in the new millennium, with Japan on the verge of societal collapse. When even the schoolchildren begin to abuse the system, the government introduces a strict new punishment whereby a randomly chosen group of students are taken to a desert island and forced to fight each other to the death.

Botched: Forced to make amends to his bosses for his part in a failed heist, Ritchie (Stephen Dorff) is sent to Russia to steal a priceless antique from a Moscow penthouse, where he finds himself trapped on the 13th floor with a deranged psycho and a pair of murderous twins.

Cigarette Burns: Hired by a millionaire collector (Udo Kier) to retrieve the infamous Le Fin du Monde — a violent movie that reportedly causes viewers to turn into homicidal maniacs after they watch it — an unsuspecting theater owner (Norman Reedus) begins to fall under the film’s spell. John Carpenter directs this unsettling installment of the “Masters of Horror” series, following one man’s search for the holy grail of horror cinema.

Dead and Breakfast (Title corrected): Six friends (including Bianca Lawson, Ever Carradine, Erik Palladino and Portia de Rossi) get more than they bargained for when they spend the night at a nondescript bed-and-breakfast in the backwater town of Lovelock. When the B&B’s owner and the chef don’t survive the night, the travelers are the prime suspects. But the tables (and suspicions) turn when the townspeople become possessed by an evil spirit and besiege the young people in the B&B.

Jenifer: Detective Frank Spivey (Steven Weber) rescues a disfigured young woman from a depraved murderer and finds himself strangely attracted to her. Jenifer (Carrie Anne Fleming) clearly has mental issues, but when the curvaceous orphan seduces Spivey, he seems more than willing to overlook her problems — until her fleshly appetites take a disturbing turn.

May: Nobody knows what to make of May (Angela Bettis). Born with a lazy eye, for which she wore a patch while growing up, she became a loner oddball whose only friend was a perfectly kept doll. She moves to L.A. and takes up with a filmmaker (Jeremy Sisto), but the relationship sours quickly — and dangerously. She then befriends an alluring lesbian colleague (Anna Faris), but that, too, along with every connection May attempts to make, turns deadly.

Near Dark: In the dusty heart of the American southwest, innocent country boy Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) is seduced by a beautiful girl (Jenny Wright) into joining a pack of vicious drifters. But this is no ordinary band of outlaws, and Caleb is soon trapped in a nightmarish world of soulless evil and hellish mayhem that thrives on blood and absolute horror. This extraordinary shocker is one of the most ferociously original vampire movies of our generation.

Night Watch: This first installment of the trilogy based on the best-selling science fiction novels by Russian writer Sergei Lukyanenko plays upon the tension between light and dark, pitting the superhuman Night Watch patrollers (known as the “Others”) against the shadowed forces of the night. But the biggest fear of all stems from the lines of an ancient prophecy, which warns of a renegade Other whose betrayal could bring chaos to the land.

Oldboy: With no clue how he came to be imprisoned, drugged and tortured for 15 years — and no one to hold accountable for his suffering — a desperate businessman seeks revenge on his captors, relying on assistance from a friendly waitress. Korean director Chan Wook Park — a former philosophy student and Hitchcock devotee — uses his influences to create a mesmerizing psychological drama with a resolution that will leave you speechless.

Santa’s Slay: Jolly old Saint Nick (Bill Goldberg) isn’t making a gift list this year — he’s making a hit list, checking it twice and unleashing his inner demon for an unforgettably terrifying Christmas. A bet that Santa lost to an angel 1,000 years ago has expired, and now he’s hell-bent on spreading some holiday fear.

The Tao of Steve: An overweight, overeducated lady-killer (Donal Logue) learns that his rules of cool (aka The Tao of Steve — McQueen) get him everywhere with the women he doesn’t want and nowhere with the woman he covets (Greer Goodman). Could there be something wrong with his philosophy? Sly and smart, The Tao of Steve burrows under the skin of modern romance, with warm, funny results.

The Tripper: A group of pill-popping hippies journeys to a love and peace concert in the woods, where they soon come under attack by a psycho with an ax to grind — and he’s sporting a Ronald Reagan mask. Can the young stoners emerge from their drug-induced haze before they literally become chopped liver?

Wilderness: The tough teen inmates of the Young Offenders Institution are dropped in a dense forest, where they’re expected to learn how to work as a team. But their backwoods rehabilitation hits a snag when a crazed archer starts picking off the delinquents one by one. As the body count climbs, a leader (Toby Kebbell) emerges. He and the rest of the ragtag crew must pass a crash course in teamwork … or else suffer the gravest of consequences.

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