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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 03.10.20] thriller adventure

Blumhouse's controversial political satire The Hunt released this week after being shelved a few months back. The film from Craig Zoebel (Z for Zachariah) and writer Damon Lindelof (Prometheus) follows a a group of rich, "Liberal elites" who hunt down "Deplorables" for fun.

Word on the street is, the film does a fine job at skewering all sides of the aisle, which we always expected it would. With films like Compliance, Zoebel has proven himself to be a master cultural observer and smart enough to see the macro problems facing modern political discourse.

Humans hunting humans is, of course, a very popular sub-genre going all the way back to the The Most Dangerous Game directed by and adapted from the story story by Richard Connell. There have been many great examples of film that played on this premise and here we count down the best 10 so you can go out and spin them all.

Listed in no particular order.

Let us know what we missed in the comments!

10. The Most Dangerous Game

One of the best and most literate movies from the great days of horror, The Most Dangerous Game stars Leslie Banks as a big-game hunter with a taste for the world's most exotic prey— his houseguests, played by Fay Wray and Joel McCrea.

Before making history with 1933’s King Kong, filmmakers Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack wowed audiences with their chilling adaptation of this Richard Connell short story.

9. The Naked Prey

Glamorous leading man turned idiosyncratic auteur Cornel Wilde created in the 1960s and ’70s a handful of gritty, violent explorations of the nature of man, none more memorable than The Naked Prey.

In the early nineteenth century, after an ivory-hunting safari offends a group of South African hunters, the colonialists are captured and hideously tortured. A lone marksman (Wilde) is released, without clothes or weapons, to be hunted for sport, and he begins a harrowing journey through savanna and jungle back to a primitive state.

Distinguished by vivid widescreen camera work and unflinchingly ferocious action sequences, The Naked Prey is both a propulsive, stripped-to-the-bone narrative and a meditation on the concept of civilization.

8. Surviving the Game

One more time around for the storyline of The Most Dangerous Game, except this one's refitted with explosions, big guns, and a flood of testosterone.

Ice-T plays Mason, a homeless man shanghaied from the streets of Los Angeles to work as a guide and all-around man Friday for a hunting party. What the down-on-his-luck fellow soon finds out is that he is the quarry, and has to rely on his own resourcefulness to stay one step ahead of his tormentors.

Laden with atrocious dialogue and narrative implausibilities, this is still a fun action movie if seen only for its own merits and nothing more. The fine cast (Gary Busey, Charles Dutton, F. Murray Abraham, John C. McGinley) chews the script until practically frothing at the mouth while trying to out-maniac each other.

Busey is the head macho lunatic, but the twitchy McGinley nearly steals the show as he turns the knob on the weirdo meter up to eleven, then breaks it off and throws it away. Ice-T, on the other hand, puts his coping skills to the test as the hapless human prey. Most of director Ernest R. Dickerson's resumé has consisted of cinematography work (for Spike Lee, among others), and it shows with the film's competent, almost glossy look.

Don't watch Surviving the Game expecting any great statements or overarching agendas, and you'll be surprised by an untentionally goofy action picture with preposterous situations and wide-open-throttle performances. Plus, chances are you've never seen a foot-wide pine tree chopped down with a shotgun (we kid you not).

7. The Condemned

An adrenalin-charged action thriller, The Condemned tells the story of Jack Conrad (Stone Cold Steve Austin), who is awaiting the death penalty in a corrupt Central American prison.

He is purchased by a wealthy television producer and taken to a desolate island where he must fight to the death against nine other condemned killers from all corners of the world, with freedom going to the sole survivor.

The producer films the illegal event, airing the killings live and uncensored onto the internet.

6. Ready or Not

Ready or Not follows a young bride (Samara Weaving) as she joins her new husband's (Mark O'Brien) rich, eccentric family (Adam Brody, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell) in a time-honored tradition that turns into a lethal game with everyone fighting for their survival.

5. Escape 2000 (Turkey Shoot)

In a totalitarian near future, defiant citizens are labeled deviants and sentenced to brutal behavior modification camps. But when new prisoners Anders (Steve Railsback of THE STUNT MAN and HELTER SKELTER) and Walters (Olivia Hussey of ROMEO & JULIET and BLACK CHRISTMAS) are chosen as human prey for rich people to hunt, they will be thrust into a nightmare of depravity, dismemberment, cleaved skulls, exploding heads, lesbians with crossbows, the insane hungers of a deformed cannibal circus freak, and more.

Michael Craig (THE VAULT OF HORROR), John Ley (BMX BANDITS) and Roger Ward (MAD MAX) co-star in this notorious blood-and-thunder shocker also known as ESCAPE 2000 and BLOOD CAMP THATCHER from maverick Ozploitation director Brian Trenchard-Smith (STUNT ROCK, DEAD END DRIVE-IN) and producer Antony I.

4. Battle Royale

In 2000, director Kinji Fukasaku unleashed BATTLE ROYALE, his violently poetic epic about an innocent group of Junior High students forced by the government to hunt and kill their classmates for sport. It was nominated for 10 Japanese Academy Awards, launched a global phenomenon, and banned from screens by frightened civic groups and distributors across America.

Three years later, the equally disturbing sequel -- featuring a new class, new rules, and a brutal terrorist plot by the first film's young survivors -- triggered its own tragic firestorm around the world.

3. Happy Hunting

An alcoholic drifter battles withdrawals and psychotic rednecks after he becomes the target of a depraved sporting event.

2. Beyond the Reach

A high-rolling corporate shark and his impoverished young guide play the most dangerous game during a hunting trip in the Mojave Desert.


Jean-Claude Van Damme teams up with world-famous action director John Woo (Face/Off ) for the electrifying thriller, Hard Target. Chance Boudreaux (Van Damme) is the target of an evil mercenary (Lance Henriksen) who recruits combat veterans for the "amusement" of his clients - bored tycoons who will pay a half a million dollars to stalk and kill the most challenging prey of them all: Man.

So when beautiful Natasha Binder (Yancy Butler) hires Chance in search of her missing father, she gets more than she bargained for. Laced with dark humor and slam-packed with electrifying action, Hard Target is a must see for action fans.

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Wumpus (3 years ago) Reply



Anne Honimous (3 years ago) Reply

Nice list... Punishment Park should be in there as well.

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