Crow’s Quality Movie Recommendations
Entertainment has always been my thing – music, movies, plays, musicals, books, video games, comics, et cetera. While I’ve been focusing on introducing people to music they wouldn’t have ever thought of trying out initially, I’ve always had a giant soft spot for movies. While I do like educational programs and movies, I tend to prefer movies that are uniquely interesting for other reasons.
Here’s a list of movies that I love with every fiber of my being. Movies that have blown my mind, made me think, made me laugh until I cried, or were just generally awesome because action, adventure, blood, gore, and things that go bump in the night. Hey, I’m an equal opportunist when it comes to movie genres.
So, without any further ado or rambling, I give you… The recommendations. In no particular order.
The Crazies (2010)
Genre: Horror | Mystery | Thriller
Plot: The inhabitants of a small Iowa town are suddenly plagued by insanity and then death after a mysterious toxin contaminates their water supply.
Why: I fell in love with this movie the first time I saw it. Aside from the fact that I have the deep desire to woo Timothy Olyphant like he was a heroine in a Harlequin novel, the movie is overall enjoyable if you like movies about small towns that go to Hell and have copious amounts of blood and violence. And if you don’t like that? Well, you get to watch Timothy Olyphant be a badass, which is always a win in my book.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
Genre: Adventure | Fantasy
Plot: A younger and more reluctant Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, sets out on a journey to the Lonely Mountain with a spirited group of Dwarvs to reclaim their stolen mountain home from a dragon named Smaug.
Why: I grew up with my mom reading The Hobbit to me at night. It’s always held a special place in my heart, and the movie rekindled the feelings of adventure and awe that I had while listening to the story as a kid. It’s full of adventure, fighting, and laughs. If you watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy, then The Hobbit is a must see. And if you didn’t watch Lord of the Rings? Well, no one will hold that against you, but you should still give The Hobbit a try.
The Boondock Saints (1999)
Genre: Action | Crime | Thriller
Plot: Fraternal twins set out to rid Boston of the evil men operating there while being tracked down by an FBI agent.
Why: Aside from the stellar cast consisting of Willem Dafoe, Sean Patrick Flannery, and Norman Reedus, this movie packs a serious punch with its script. Connor (Flanery) and Murphy (Reedus) are vigilantes who take the idealism of Robin Hood to a whole new level. Their mission is one that most anyone can get behind, and Smecker (Dafoe) is the icing on the proverbial cake. This one is full of violence, but it also has a great moral code, a shit ton of humor, and some weird ass family values stuffed in there, too.
Genre: Adventure | Drama | Family | Fantasy
Plot: In a fantasy world of opposing kingdoms, a 15-year old girl must find the fabled MirrorMask in order to save the kingdom and get home.
Why: MirrorMask takes you on an adventure to another world where nothing makes sense and makes perfect sense at the same time. Helena grows up in a circus, but finds herself tired of the life and gets into an argument with her mother over it. After her mother is hospitalized she finds herself trapped in a fantasy world that is being consumed by darkness, and it’s her job to save it. It’s a good story, but that’s to be expected when Neil Gaiman is the writer. The imagery is also incredibly stunning, and it’s generally a really good movie. It’s one of my go-to movies.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Genre: Drama | Fantasy | War
Plot: In the fascist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world.
Why: Pan’s Labyrinth will rip your heart out and stomp on it without remorse. But it’s worth it. Guillermo del Toro spins a captivating story about Ofelia’s struggle to find a way to make it through her hellish life with her monster of a stepfather and wonderful, but sickly, mother who is pregnant. Ofelia’s fantasy world, at times, mirrors her real life in a way that makes it obvious that she is trying to make sense of what is going on around her. It’s a movie about escapism, but is so well done that it feels more like a fairy tale. The movie is in Spanish, but it’s worth reading subtitles, and you will cry at the end. You will cry crocodile tears and then watch it again.
Genre: Crime | Mystery | Thriller
Plot: Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi.
Why: SE7EN is sort of a cult classic. It’s enthralling from the beginning. It’s really one of the best crime movies ever. Period. Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt deliver a stellar performance. There is lots of sick, twisted murder going down in this movie. It is not for the weak stomached. You might walk away from this movie disturbed, and you might find yourself asking, “What’s in the box,” any time you’re confronted with a box whose contents you are not sure of.
Genre: Adventure | Fantasy | Family
Plot: In a countryside town bordering on a magical land, a young man makes a promise to his beloved that he’ll retrieve a fallen star by venturing into the magical realm.
Why: The real question is: Why not? I’m serious. Sky pirates, witches, princesses, princes, ghosts, fallen stars who are actual girls, betrayal, love, sword fights, Ian McKellen narrating, Robert De Niro in drag. This movie has it all, and so much more. Just watch it. You won’t regret it, even if you think it sounds like a girly movie. I promise it’s not. It’s good fun for everyone. Do it. Watch it.
The Princess Bride (1987)
Genre: Adventure | Comedy | Family
Plot: A classic fairy tale, with swordplay, giants, an evil prince, a beautiful princess, and yes, some kissing (as read by a kindly grandfather).
Why: The Princess Bride is one of those movies that you just can’t dismiss based on the cover, description, or anything else. You have to watch it. It is, by far, one of the most hilarious adventure movies that’s kind of a love story at heart. Like Stardust, it seems like it’d be a silly girl’s movie. But I promise you, it is anything but.
Genre: Fantasy | Adventure | Romance
Plot: A young man must stop the Lord of Darkness from both destroying daylight and marrying the woman he loves.
Why: Tom Cruise plays Jack, a guy who is pretty much a better clothed and educated Tarzan, who has to save Lili (Mia Sara) from Satan (Tim Curry) after Lili fucks shit up by touching a unicorn. If Tim Curry playing Satan doesn’t rope you in, then I give up on you. Yeah, it’s another one of those adventure fantasy movies that has romance all over it, but there’s so much peril. All the peril. It’s pretty much a classic movie that everyone needs to watch at least one time in their life.
Plot: Jake Gray and his friends have been playing a deadly game called “The Pathway”, which eventually spirals out of control and threatens a worldwide epidemic of violence.
Why: First of all, that plot is entirely inaccurate. Yeah, they play that game, but it’s less of a worldwide epidemic of violence and more a concentrated epidemic of violence ending in Jenny Thunder… I mean, Jensen Ackles’ character, Jake, coming face to face with Lucifer. I’m not shitting you. Okay, it’s not actually a quality movie in the classic sense, but it is a quality b-rated horror flick. This movie is fun to get drunk to and tweet about. I’ve done it, and so should you.
Stonehenge Apocalypse (2010)
Plot: Archeologists come across an Egyptian chamber causing an electromagnetic pulse, which comes from Stonehenge, that sends destructive shockwaves around the world. When the pyramids are destroyed and the stones start doing strange things a radio host, a team of scientists, and a team of the British military try to stop the same force responsible for creating life on Earth, from destroying everything.
Why: You’ll notice I didn’t use the poster or DVD case image for this one. No, I used a picture of Misha Collins with his most quotable line in the whole movie. This, like Devour, is not quality in the classic sense. This movie is so inane and b-rated that it’s to be loved and cherished. It’s another that’s great for a fun drinking game that is guaranteed to get you drunk within 20 minutes.
Plot: Fred Daly returns to Ireland with nowhere to live but his car. Then dope-smoking 21-year-old Cathal parks beside him, and brightens up his lonely world.
Why: It sounds like a fun hi-jinks filled movie about learning how to love life again, but it will rip your heart out and set it on fire and then shove it back in your chest. Also, good luck understanding Colin Morgan in this movie if you aren’t good at sussing out what’s being said if it’s being said in a true Irish accent. This movie made me cry. I had a public breakdown on Twitter while watching this movie. I hold it as one of my favorite movies, even though it hurts to think about and I’ve only watched it all the way to the end one time because Colin Fucking Morgan.
Genre: Animation | SciFi
Plot: A secret military project endangers Neo-Tokyo when it turns a biker gang member into a rampaging psionic psychopath that only two kids and a group of psionics can stop.
Why: Holy shit, this movie. Most people look at it and dismiss it because it’s animated, but it is one of the most thought provoking explosion-and-death riddled movies in my collection. If you want a good no bullshit scifi, then this is the movie for you. You don’t even have to watch it in Japanese, watch the dub, it’s pretty good. This movie is a cult classic for a reason, okay?
Genre: Drama | Mystery | Thriller
Plot: After being kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in 5 days.
Why: This movie is a mind fuck from go. Daesu’s quest for revenge is a bloody path filled with questions and a moment of, “Oh my fucking GOD,” right there near the end that will leave your mind blown. This is, by far, one of the best Korean films ever. There’s an English remake of this movie now, and I’m curious to see if it’ll hold a candle to this wonderfully dark cult classic.
The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008)
Genre: Action | Adventure | Comedy
Plot: The story of two outlaws and a bounty hunter in 1940s Manchuria and their rivalry to possess a treasure map while being pursued by the Japanese army and Chinese bandits.
Why: This movie is too damn funny, first of all. It’s a fast paced adventure that’s reminiscent of American westerns, if you’re into that kind of thing, and it all starts out on a train. It’s the perfect balance of action and comedy. Basically, it’s everything that Jackie Chan’s buddy-cop movies want to be, but successful. This is another one of those amazingly done Korean flicks that I can’t push on people hard enough.
Genre: Fantasy | Horror | Mystery
Plot: Tsui Ting-Yin is a best-selling author. For her upcoming book, she decides to change her genre by writing a suspense-thriller novel titled Re-Cycle. At the same time, her ex-boyfriend, returns into her life, asking to be united with her again. To further complicate her life, the novel she is penning introduces her to the supernatural when one of her characters appear in real life. The author decides to follow the character into her fictional world where she is met with pure terror.
Why: This movie has some amazing imagery. The fictional world Ting-Yin finds herself in is equally beautiful and terrifying. Some of the things she goes through while in the fictional world are gruesome as Hell. The Pang brothers really brought their A-Game when they made this movie. My sister and brother-in-law were a bit disturbed by the movie, which is to be expected with the well scene. Watch it to see what I mean.
Genre: Action | Fantasy | Horror
Plot: There are 666 portals that connect this world to the other side. These are concealed from all human beings. Somewhere in Japan exists the 444th portal…. The forest of resurrection.
Why: Versus proves that characters in a movie don’t have to actually have names in order to be compelling characters. The entire movie takes place in the forest where Prisoner KSC2-303 (the main character) battles it out against gangsters, zombies, cops, assassins, and kinda sorta fate while protecting The Girl. The movie is mostly fighting that all leads up to the big show down between anti-hero KSC2-303 and The Man. You’re so wrapped up in the plight of KSC2-303 and The Girl through the entire movie that it isn’t until it’s over and you’re discussing it with other people that you realize… wait… no one had a name in this movie. It’s one of my favorite cult classics, and it’s worth the watch.
Death Trance (2005)
Genre: Action | Adventure | Fantasy
Plot: A swordsman named Grave yearns for the ultimate battle. Legend tells of a black coffin kept at the Tougan Temple which has the power to grant any man’s deepest desire. Hoping to utilize the coffin’s ability to fulfill his wish, Grave infiltrates the temple and steals it. Accompanied by a mysterious young girl, Grave travels across the land towards a desert oasis, a place the tales indicate as being linked to the coffin’s power. The Tougan monks believe that the coffin holds the Goddess of Destruction, who was banished from Heaven for trying to destroy the world, and whose release will bring about the apocalypse. The monks dispatch Ryuen to retrieve the coffin and prevent it from being opened. But many other forces are also searching for Grave and his prize, including treasure hunter Sid, and an all-out free-for-all ensues as they all struggle to discover the secret power of the coffin.
Why: Besides the fact that the movie is bitchin’ and one major free for all, the sound track is mostly Dir en grey. Tak Sakaguchi (who played KSC2-303 in Versus) is seriously badass in this movie. The little girl is creepy as fuck. Ryuen is adorable. Sid is a BAMF. It’s a hell of a ride, and one of the best fantasy-martial arts fusion movies I’ve ever seen.
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
Genre: Drama | Horror | Mystery
Plot: A family is haunted by the tragedies of deaths within the family.
Why: Have you seen The Uninvited? If so, then you have to watch this movie. This is the movie that The Uninvited is based on. This movie is darker, and much more twisted. It’s sad, heart wrenching, and at some points it’s actually pretty damn creepy. You really feel for the characters, and you’re on the edge of your seat the entire time trying to figure out what, exactly, is actually going on. The end is one huge twist. The ending of The Uninvited is similar, but, really, it has nothing on the ending of A Tale of Two Sisters.
Battle Royale (2000)
Genre: Adventure | Thriller
Plot: In the future, the Japanese government captures a class of 9th grade students and forces them to kill each other under the revolutionary “Battle Royale” act.
Why: They take a group of kids, drop them on an island, and tell them that they have to kill each other off until there is only one left. If there’s more than one left at the end of the allotted time? They all die. This movie was controversial because of the age of the characters killing each other, and it was ground breaking because it just didn’t give two fucks. This movie is a hats off to natural selection, and is one of my prized cult classic DVD’s.
John Dies At The End (2012)
Genre: Comedy | Fantasy | Horror
Plot: A new street drug that sends its users across time and dimensions has one drawback: some people return as no longer human. Can two college dropouts save humankind from this silent, otherworldly invasion?
Why: I had to rewind the beginning a few times because I missed bits because people were talking. Now, normally, I don’t have to do that during a movie. It’s a rare thing because, generally, I can suss out what I just missed via context clues. But not this time, no sir. And it’s not because it’s too smart or anything, but because the movie works on the theory of wibbly wobbly timey wimey and absolute weirdness that is almost Lovecraftian in nature. I stared at this flick with uncertainty on Netflix and took a chance on it. I’m glad I took that chance, and sorta wish I’d watched it earlier than I did.
The Evil Dead (1981)
Plot: Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons.
Why: The Evil Dead is one of those movies that is sort of like a right of passage for any horror genre fan. It’s home to the iconic – albeit creepy as fuck – Tree Rape Scene that scarred the minds of impressionable young children everywhere. It was the birth place of the first hero of many horror fans. It was the movie that built us up for all the god things to come in cheesy horror flicks as we got older. While the effects aren’t spectacular, they’re pretty cool for what they are. It’s a classic film that should be watched by every good boy and girl who enjoys a good old fashioned demonic possession and semi-zombie-like mayhem.
Cabin In The Woods (2012)
Genre: Horror | Mystery | Thriller
Plot: Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.
Why: One of my complaints about horror movies, in general, is that all the characters are dumber than a box full of hair. In most horror movies the characters are so incapable of surviving that they could be strangled to death by a cordless phone. Enter Cabin In The Woods where the characters are all actually quite intelligent, they just happen to make some mistakes because of outside forces beyond their control. It takes all the standard tropes found in horror movies and puts an interesting spin on them that leaves you wanting more. The ending is like a punch to the face of reality, and I loved every literal bloody moment of this movie.
Attack The Gas Station (1999)
Plot: Four disaffected youths rob a gas station but find their plans complicated and sidetracked before the night is through.
Why: This movie is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen in my entire life. No shit. The movie is exactly what you’d think it is. There is an all out street brawl, ridiculous hostage situations, and just a plethora of hilarity. But there’s also a really strong plot, and the four main characters have incredibly intricate personalities and backgrounds that play heavily in all of their actions throughout the movie. It’s one that, if I were asked to pick a comedy to watch by someone who wasn’t a huge fan of foreign films, I would pick out and feel confident that they would enjoy the movie.
Volcano High (2001)
Genre: Action | Fantasy
Plot: Violence in Korean High School, especially inside the WaSanGo (Volcano High). You won’t be able to escape.
Why: Normally I would advise against watching dubbed versions of live action films. However, MTV got their hands on Volcano High and all of the voice actors are popular Hip Hop and Rap artists. I shit you not, the voice over cast features the likes of Snoop Dogg, Kelis, Method Man, Tracy Morgan, Mya, etc. So, on top of having an over the top martial arts film in a high school that has a very DBZ/Naruto feel, you’ve got Snoop Dogg voicing one of the little Korean boys. Could you ask for anything more entertaining? I think not. So run out, find a copy of this movie that includes the dub, and prepare yourself for one of the most ridiculous and hilarious viewing experiences of your life.
Drag Me To Hell (2009)
Genre: Horror | Thriller
Plot: A loan officer who evicts an old woman from her home finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse. Desperate, she turns to a seer to try and save her soul, while evil forces work to push her to a breaking point.
Why: Drag Me To Hell is a shining example of everything a PG-13 horror movie should strive to be. It was the very epitome of creepy without having to throw in superfluous tits and ass to make people want to watch it. The acting and story line sold this movie, and it sold it well. This is one of those movies that really stood out when I first watched it because it used subtle nuances, more often than not, to create an eerie story that could really actually creep you out in real life. It’s a good flick, and (believe it or not) it was actually pretty funny, too.
Genre: Action | Adventure | SciFi
Plot: A Duke’s son leads desert warriors against the galactic emperor and his father’s evil nemesis when they assassinate his father and free their desert world from the emperor’s rule.
Why: I remember watching Dune when I was a kid and falling in love. I ran around telling people I was going to ‘take their water’ on a daily basis. Hell, I still tell people I’m going to take their water. Dune had a huge impact on me as a kid. It was one of the first SciFi movies I ever watched.
Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Genre: Crime | Thriller
Plot: A botched card game in London triggers four friends, thugs, weed-growers, hard gangsters, loan sharks and debt collectors to collide with each other in a series of unexpected events, all for the sake of weed, cash and two antique shotguns.
Why: Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels is a movie that has a lot of circumstance and plain coincidence. The story is laid out, at times, in a way reminiscent of Pulp Fiction. It’s hilarious from start to finish, and the action never lets up. Guy Ritchie is one of my favorite directors because of how he tells a story. This movie is fantastic on all kinds of levels.
Genre: Crime | Thriller
Plot: Unscrupulous boxing promoters, violent bookmakers, a Russian gangster, incompetent amateur robbers, and supposedly Jewish jewelers fight to track down a priceless stolen diamond.
Why: Snatch is another Guy Ritchie film, and plays out much like Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels. In fact, a lot of the same actors are in this one as the previous. You pretty much need clarification on everything Brad Pitt says in this movie, as his accent is such that you can’t actually understand it, but have no fear: the other characters in the movie can’t understand him, either. There’s lots of action and comedy in this movie and holds up to the expectations one would have after watching Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, or anything else by Guy Ritchie, for that matter.
Suicide Room (2011)
Genre: Drama | Thriller
Plot: After suffering extreme humiliation at school, Dominik holes himself up in his room and begins spending all his time in a virtual reality chat room.
Why: Suicide Room deals with the very real effects that bullying can have on a teen. It’s a movie that really struck a cord with me, and I could totally see something like it playing out in real life. It’s an incredibly sad movie, and you really feel for Dominik as you watch him experience life as a teenager who has been humiliated and, subsequently, bullied after he realizes he’s not as straight as he once thought he was. It really makes you think and open your eyes.