Six out of ten isn’t a very good score, really. It’s barely over half marks. 60 per cent. It’s alright, but it’s not great. You wouldn’t be proud of getting six out of ten on most kinds of tests, would you? So you might assume that any film that scores under six stars out of ten on the IMDb isn’t very good – possibly even terrible.
But that’s not always the case. Averages don’t tell the whole story; anything that’s potentially controversial or divisive will end up with a score that suggests most people weren’t that bothered about it, since high and low scores will be averaged – and IMDb users often exaggerate their scores anyway, giving a film one star if they didn’t like it, ten stars if they did, and to hell with nuance. Plus, sometimes, the masses are wrong about film. Just as a high box office take doesn’t indicate quality, a low IMDb score doesn’t necessarily mean something’s awful.
On the other hand, sometimes a film isn’t very good, but it’s worth watching anyway. Sometimes bad films are interesting. Nothing included here is in that awful category known as “so bad it’s good”, because that’s kind of nonsense really; but some of them, in spite of their flaws, just have something about them that’s worthwhile.
So that was all a long way of saying that, well, here’s a list of movies that scored under six stars on the IMDb that you should consider watching. Let’s go.
Disclaimer: these films were all rated under 6.0 when we checked. Don’t blame us if, purely off the back of this article, their individual ratings suddenly shoot through the roof. Ahem.
A Very Brady Sequel5.3 stars
It’s a travesty that both of the cinematically-released Brady Bunch movies have surprisingly low scores at IMDb, but the 5.3/10 afforded to A Very Brady Sequel is beyond scandalous. It’s comfortably one of the best comedies that came out of a Hollywood studio in the 1990s, buoyed by an outstanding ensemble, led by Gary Cole as Mike Brady.
It picks up perfectly from the similarly fun The Brady Bunch Movie, but adds a dose of incest, plenty of very funny jokes, and a really quite inspired drug sequence. Jennifer Elise Cox’s performance as Jan Brady is also criminally underrated.
Along Came Polly5.8 stars
A far better comedy than Stiller’s massively successful collection of Meet The Parents movies, Along Came Polly pairs him with Jennifer Aniston in a genuinely funny movie with a strong cast. For leading the supporting players are Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Alex Baldwin, Bryan Brown and Hank Azaria. But it’s the surprisingly witty script that gives Along Came Polly a lift. A good, fun movie for a light evening. And worth a bit more than 5.8/10.
Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey5.9 stars
There’s something about comedy sequels on this list, as you’ll soon discover. We’ve already seen A Very Brady Sequel get unfairly overlooked, but Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey? Given that the most common complaint about a sequel is that it retreads the original with fewer laughs and no new ideas, why punish the ones that actually bother?
Furthermore, in the case of Bogus Journey, they succeed, expanding well on Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and bringing in the small matter of Death playing Twister. 5.9 out of 10? Piss off…
Black Sheep5.9 stars
It’s weird how many people just don’t seem to get horror comedy. This New Zealand movie sees genetically engineered sheep turning into mutated killers – and the only people who can stop them running riot are a couple of environmental protesters and a sheep-phobic former farmer. It’s pretty silly, yes. But it’s also really fun, and funny, and even occasionally scary. The American Werewolf In London nod is well done, too.
It’s difficult to know what the IMDb users who’ve rated this film six stars or under were looking for that Black Sheep didn’t give them. Maybe they didn’t realise it was meant to be a comedy?
Blade: Trinity5.7 stars
The Blade movies are not amazing. This one is barely even a Blade movie – Wesley Snipes is still in the process of suing New Line Cinema over not paying him his full salary or involving him in script decisions, and reputedly felt that the film introduced too many new characters and didn’t focus enough on Blade himself. So he probably wouldn’t like me saying that that isn’t entirely a bad thing. Blade: Trinity is the Ryan Reynolds Show.
The plot is barely functional, the cinematography is awful, and Dominic Purcell is the least likely Dracula ever to make it to the silver screen… but Ryan Reynolds’ performance, particularly his interactions with Parker Posey’s villainous Danica Talos, makes it all worthwhile. Also: vampire Pomeranians. You can’t entirely hate a film that contains vampire Pomeranians. It’s not possible.
The Bone Snatcher 4.4 stars
For this to not even earn five stars is just kind of stupid. Yeah, it’s cheap, but it’s got a really weird creature at its heart – one you won’t have seen anywhere else – and, as a whole, it works. Set in the Namib Desert, a group of scientists investigates the mysterious death of a group of miners and finds that… well, that’d be telling, but there’s a monster, and it’s kind of awesome. The characters are believable, the situation is plausible, and the idea of being so incredibly isolated is genuinely frightening. It’s not going to change your life, but it’s a perfectly good movie that’s been unfairly voted down here.
The Box5.7 stars
File this one under “interesting failures.” Richard Kelly, the much-lauded director of the brilliant Donnie Darko went full weird for this sort-of adaptation of Richard Matheson’s Button, Button. The premise is simple: presented with a button that you can press to receive $1,000,000 at the cost of a stranger’s life, would you push it? Obviously, the characters in the movie do push it, otherwise there wouldn’t be much point, and what happens next is just odd. Really, seriously odd.
It’s worth seeing, even if it doesn’t really work as a film. Kelly is obviously a fan of David Lynch, but between Donnie Darko, The Box, and Southland Tales, he’s expressed his own very weird view of the world, and at the very least, his movies are never dull.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer5.4 stars
We’ve already defended this one at length on this site, but it’s worth mentioning again. Yes, it’s different from the tremendously successful TV series it spawned; yes, it’s not as dark or meaningful as Joss Whedon intended; yes, apparently Donald Sutherland is a nightmare to work with. But you’re not Joss Whedon, and this film is actually really entertaining. If we can deal with the many, many origin stories of characters like Spider-man and Batman, we can deal with two different versions of Buffy. This one maybe isn’t as good as the TV Buffy, but that doesn’t mean it’s terrible.Cabin Fever5.4 stars
Eli Roth’s first film has a lot to recommend it. The set-up is familiar – a group of kids go off to a cabin in the woods for a holiday and end up dying horribly – but the film knows you’re familiar with it, and sets about playing with that set-up, subverting your expectations at every step. The villain isn’t a knife-wielding maniac, but a flesh-eating virus; the serious blonde girl isn’t the Final Girl; and the racist townsfolk… well, you’ll need to watch it, but there’s a great pay-off to that particular joke. There are also some seriously weird moments in this film, mostly involving pancakes. What does it all mean? Nothing. But it’s fun anyway.
The Cable Guy5.9 stars
Hmmm. There’s no shortage of films beginning with the letter C that fit into the underrated bracket. Ben Stiller’s movie The Cable Guy does, a film that wasn’t helped by being positioned as a mainstream comedy blockbuster when it was actually anything but. Instead, what you get is a dark, often not very pleasant comedy, with a compelling central performance from Carrey in the title role.
It underperformed at the box office, mainly, you’d suspect, because it didn’t conform to what the Jim Carrey audience was expecting and had been sold. But it’s a film that’s still talked about over a decade later, even when many of Carrey’s sizeable hits aren’t.Can’t Stop The Music3.7 stars
On a pure entertainment level, there’s plenty to enjoy about Can’t Stop The Music, a marvellously over-the-top film that basically tells the story of The Village People.
Critically derided on its release, and offering several solid reasons as to why it’s not liked. Reportedly torn apart behind the scenes, the end result is a fascinating mess, one made even better if you read Robert Hoffer’s book, Party Animals, about producer Allan Carr.
Can’t Stop The Music? It’s the best film scoring 3.7 on the IMDb that you’ll ever see.Charlie’s Angels5.5 stars
Appreciating that not everyone warms to the directorial style of McG at his most excessive, the current 5.5 score for Charlie’s Angels remains really quite harsh. I’d argue that it’s actually a really good, entertaining action movie, that’s not as excessive as the pretty crappy sequel that followed.
Furthermore, it has a trump card, and that card is Bill Murray. Whenever the action threatens to sag, in comes a world-weary Murray to belt out a couple of lines and pump life back into the thing. It’s really rather good.
Directed by Hideo Nakata, who also directed Ring, Chatroom isn’t as much of a horror movie as you’d expect. It’s more of a teen drama, which might be what confused people into giving it such a low score. That, and it’s just kind of weird. It’s about a group of teens who meet in a chatroom and, basically, bully and torture one another, but because it’d be really dull to watch people sitting around typing, the chatrooms are depicted as actual rooms. Once you get the hang of the conceit, it’s very watchable – maybe because Aaron Johnson, star of Kick-Ass, actually makes a brilliant villain.
Cherry Falls4.8 stars
Another teen horror film aimed at subverting the rules of the genre, Cherry Falls features a serial killer who only targets virgins. (Traditionally, virgins are safe from serial killers, since serial killers are obviously very concerned with outdated morality.) Cue an orgy, as all the town’s teenagers attempt to lose their virginity at once. It’s not quite as X-rated as that makes it sound, though; actually, it downplays the actual sex in favour of talking about it a lot.
Unfortunately, the killer’s backstory ends up being disappointingly common, although the actual identity of the murderer is a bit of a surprise. It’s not great, but it’s worth seeing at least for its deliberate attempt to be different from every other teen slasher going.
A Cinderella Story 5.4 stars
This isn’t a geek movie, really, but I do think that it’s unfair that it’s rated so poorly on the IMDb. Teen comedies, like horror movies, don’t tend to get rated highly by critics; the star rating system unfairly penalises these kinds of films for not being something they’re not even trying to be. So, for light entertainment, you could do a lot worse than A Cinderella Story. The plot is, well, Cinderella, with Hilary Duff in the starring role, being victimised by her horrible stepmother and stepsisters. Rather than anything turning into a pumpkin, Cinderella – here, the more sensible “Sam” – meets her prince online, and the complicated social politics of your average American high school prevent her from revealing her offline identity to her crush. Yeah, it’s fluff, but it’s kind of great fluff.Congo 4.7 stars
I suspect that Congo is a victim of the reactive review, where people go en masse and click one out of ten, thus sending the average score tumbling through the floor. And truthfully, Frank Marshall’s movie of Michael Crichton’s novel hasn’t aged particularly well.
But then, it depends on the spirit in which you take it. On the level of a solid adventure film, with a performance from Tim Curry that feels like he was given a different script from everyone else, it’s surprisingly strong. Amy the gorilla, too, has a mastery of communication that’s hard to resist. And the film itself? It really has its moments. It’s fun entertainment, and solid blockbuster cinema.
The Craft5.9 stars
Released in the same year as Scream, and borrowing two of its stars, The Craft holds a special place in the heart of anyone who was a bit of a goth in the 90s. A red-headed new girl falls in with her school’s meanest of girls and becomes a super-powerful witch, which doesn’t go down well with the coven’s former leader. Competition over friends, spells and boys leads to all sorts of mean-spirited magic. It’s pretty dated now, but still compelling. High school politics never really change, do they?Crazy People5.3 stars
It’s scandalous that this joyous Dudley Moore comedy doesn’t rank higher. Just bizarre. It’s based around a strong central idea: what if an advertising executive suddenly told the truth? As a consequence of this decision, said advertising executive, played by Moore, suddenly happens upon success.
The film has tremendous fun with this concept, with the Sony pitch (“Sony. Bony.”) and AT&T advert (“If we fold, you’ll have no damn phones. AT&T. We’re tired of taking your crap”) among the many highlights.
We miss Dudley Moore at his finest. If you take just one comedy of this list to track down, please make it this one. Or A Very Brady Sequel.
Crocodile Dundee In Los Angeles4.6 stars
A very belated sequel, and going by its box office returns, not a particularly welcome one. And it’s hard to argue that Crocodile Dundee In Los Angeles takes many creative risks at all. Instead, it relies heavily on the charm of Paul Hogan in the title role, and his ongoing ability to generate laughs as Mick Dundee.
Fortunately, he’s up to the job. It’s basically a retread of the first film, but a witty and surprisingly welcome one. A Crocodile Dundee 4 would be a bad idea, though.
Dead Man’s Curve5.9 stars
Just teetering on the edge of six stars, Dead Man’s Curve was one of the late 90s spate of teen horror movies, but it’s much darker and more intelligent than most of the films that came out in Scream’s wake. Matthew Lillard (who, yup, is also in Scream) is delightfully creepy and weird as a college student who figures he can exploit his university’s policy on suicide to his benefit – apparently, if your roommate commits suicide, you instantly get an A for the term, to make up for the trauma and missed classes, and obviously it’s easier to convince your roommate to kill themselves than to study.
Alright, it’s not the most believable of plots, but it is brilliantly dark, and there are plenty of twists to keep you interested.
Drop Dead Fred5.0 stars
If history had gone a different way, then Drop Dead Fred would have catapulted Rik Mayall to the top of the Hollywood comedy pile. But it didn’t. The divisive Drop Dead Fred is a vehicle very much tailored to Mayall’s talents (and it’s far better than the more successful Guest House Paradiso), but if you get his humour, then it’s a very concentrated dose.
Drop Dead Fred also has the very welcome Phoebe Cates in its corner, and was primed for a remake, too, with Russell Brand mooted. The original, though, is well worth digging out on its own merits.
F 4.7 stars
School kids turn into murderers – or perhaps demons? – in Johannes Roberts’ moody, claustrophobic thriller. Rather than focusing on the relationships between the high schoolers, F focuses on the ways teenagers can be strange and terrifying. There’s some spectacularly nasty gore, some wonderfully tense sequences, and a bleakly open ending that probably wrongfooted a lot of people who voted it down on the IMDb. It’s worth tracking down. Final Destination 35.8 stars
The Final Destination franchise is like Saw’s louder, more annoying relative, but this instalment is particularly fun. It’s the one that begins on the rollercoaster, a much more restrained opening sequence than either of the first two Final Destination movies, but no less gory. This time round, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is the unfortunate teen who suffers a premonition of her own untimely (and unlikely) death just before everything kicks off, and she does an admirable job of fighting death back, saving several of her friends from their splattery ends – or, at least, postponing the splats. The DVD had a choose-your-own-adventure style conceit where you could change the outcomes of certain events in the film, which is fun, but ultimately the theatrical version is better. That sunbed scene. Yuck.
F/X2 5.4 stars
Time has surely shown by now that we were too harsh to the F/X movies. Firstly, their paired the brilliant Brian Dennehy with Bryan Brown, but also, they had fun with their effects, made them integral to the narrative, and the end result was a pair of good, solid mainstream movies. Movies the mainstream never really bothered to go and see.
F/X2 does have the feel of a retread about it, to be fair, but it’s a potent one, buoyed by a central double effect that we’d love to see reunited on screen.
Crank has totally overshadowed everything else Neveldine and Taylor have done, which is understandable but kind of a shame. We sang Pathology’s praises in our list of 25 great horror movies you haven’t seen, so we will now tell you why you should watch Gamer.Basically, it has all the trademark insanity of a Neveldine and Taylor film combined with some quite interesting commentary on our internet-based culture.
There are two games in the film: Slayers, a kind of real-life Call Of Duty, and Society, a hyper-sexualised version of Second Life, and both are disturbing enough to make you rethink your gaming habits. It’s not preachy or sniffy, though; Gamer takes great delight in being as extreme, in every respect, as possible. It’s not perfect, but it’s interesting, and films as weird as this are getting to be pretty rare.
George Of The Jungle5.3 stars
Brendan Fraser is excellent in this strong Disney family movie from the late 90s that takes delirious fun in using narration to break the fourth wall. This was, of course, before breaking the fourth wall started to become a cheat rather than a funny wink at the audience.
The film’s centred around one joke, basically, that George keeps swinging into trees. But there’s a breezy plot, good jokes, and a supporting cast that features early turns from Leslie Mann and Thomas Haden Church. The straight-to-video sequel is awful, though, so be sure to avoid that.
More on George Of The Jungle, here.
Ghost Rider5.2 stars
You’re rolling your eyes, but as superhero movies go, Ghost Rider was fun and not particularly offensive. Weirdly, it took one of Marvel’s darker characters and made a family friendly film about him, but there’s a lot to like about it anyway. Nicolas Cage gives one of his quirkier performances, sipping jellybeans and listening to the Carpenters. The bike stunts are fun and, well, the Rider is a skeleton, on fire, on a motorcycle. Played by Nicolas Cage.
Plus there’s that David Mann-inspired bit where the current and previous Ghost Riders blaze through the desert on their respective steeds – one of which is a flaming horse. That’s pretty awesome.
How is it possible that Hostel rates only 5.8 stars on the IMDb while Saw is sitting at 7.7 stars? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of both, but Hostel is an infinitely better crafted film than Saw. Structurally, it’s pretty much perfect: every line of dialogue counts, every character serves a purpose, and the pacing never lags. There’s even a distinct tonal shift pretty much exactly halfway through. Even if there were no other redeeming features to this film, that’d be worth a mention.
But it’s great: there’s plenty of tension, but without forfeiting a sense of humour; its characters aren’t immensely likeable to begin with, but they’re convincing people, with layers and facets to their personalities; the gore isn’t actually as extreme as you think it is, but it’s used in exactly the right ways whenever it’s necessary. The sequel is another story, but the first Hostel is pretty much the perfect horror movie.
House Of Fears5.1 stars
House Of Fears is a surprisingly effective low-budget horror movie made by filmmakers who clearly worked out their limitations early on, and then played to them. The film is set inside a haunted house attraction, so most of the props are, justifiably, made of papier mache, and the set doesn’t look like a real house, because it’s not. It’s a fairground attraction type thing – only much better equipped than your average ghost train, and unfortunately full of actually dangerous things. When a group of kids break into the attraction to try it out before it officially opens, they trigger a curse that means each of them has to face his or her worst fears inside the house. It’s a simple, effective, perfectly serviceable horror movie.
Hudson Hawk5.4 stars
A film that it was almost compulsory to trash in the 1990s, irrespective of whether you’d seen it or not, Hudson Hawk was actually Bruce Willis’ most adventurous, riskiest film of the decade. And for two thirds of its running time, it hangs together really a lot better than it’s ever given credit for.
I remember seeing it on the opening day, having read nothing but scathing reviews, feeling like I was supposed to hate Hudson Hawk. But it had me early on, and Danny Aiello and Bruce Willis singing Side By Side whilst on the rob is far more fun than most of the action movies the decade spawned. Turns out, Hudson Hawk is a film full of expensive, and a fair number of them paid off.
Idle Hands5.9 stars
Another unfairly maligned horror comedy, this one features Devon Sawa (of Casper fame) as a teenager so bone idle that the Devil takes control of one of his hands. After murdering his family and friends, he chops off the hand, which doesn’t stop the carnage. As well as Sawa, the all-star cast also features Seth Green, Vivica A Fox and Jessica Alba, as well as a cameo by The Offspring which should delight you whether or not you’re a fan. In fact, you’ll probably enjoy it most if you really can’t stand them. The humour veers towards the stoner comedy, and some of the severed hand’s antics strain credulity, but why let physics get in the way of a good time?Iron Eagle4.9 stars
It’s like Top Gun made for a tenner, and all the better for it. Louis Gosset Jr takes to the skies in the first, and best, Iron Eagle movie, which sits with a paltry 4.9/10. What the IMDb’s voters have clearly missed are the wisecracks, the action (framed by the director of, er, Superman IV, no less), and the central performance by Gossett Jr, which drags the film single-handedly through many of its weaker moments.
We’re not going to sit and make a case for Iron Eagle being the most wronged and most underrated film on this list. But it’s a damn sight better than 4.9/10 would lead you to believe.
Jason X4.3 stars
When a franchise has been as exhausted as Friday The 13th, there’s only one thing for it: send everyone into space. Jason X is set in the distant future, when Jason Voorhees is inadvertently brought out of his cryogenic stasis and let loose on a space station. It’s got to be seen to be believed. The film’s highlights include an android in search of realistic nipples, a David Cronenberg cameo, and a recreation of the sleeping bag scene from Friday The 13th Part VII set inside a holodeck. It’s more inventive than just bashing out a by-the-numbers remake, anyway.Jennifer’s Body5.2 stars
Written by Diablo Cody and starring Megan Fox, it’s understandable that Jennifer’s Body has taken a lot of flak. But it’s kind of brilliant. The titular Jennifer is the archetypal mean girl, the kind of gorgeous popular girl that everyone secretly hates; her best friend, Needy, is a nerd. When a touring band accidentally turn Jennifer into a demon, she wreaks her vengeance on her hometown by murdering all of its most beloved sons, using her sexuality against them. It’s actually a really interesting portrayal of female friendships, with a good pass at small town mentalities, too.
The dialogue might be hyper-stylised (“Moveon.org” being the most commonly derided quote from the film), but that’s a hallmark of the genre; it’s not impossible to imagine a character from Dawson’s Creek or Buffy The Vampire Slayer talking like that. There’s some surprisingly great photography in there, too, and Adam Brody’s turn as the incredibly nasty frontman of sappy emo band Low Shoulder is joyous.Josie And The Pussycats5.1 stars
There’s plenty going on under the surface of the Josie And The Pussycats movie, a confident film that glorious sends up the music industry. Starring Rachael Leigh Cook and Tara Reid, it features a girl group in the middle of a plot about delivering subliminal messages through mass entertainment. It’s a plot that, crucially, finds some room for Alan Cumming, too. A treat of a film, with some really good music, too.
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never1.5 stars
Er, do you think some anti-Bieber tactical voting may have taken place here? We’re no paid up fans of the pubescent prince of pop, but Jon M Chu’s documentary, Never Say Never, is far better than you may be expecting.
Its trick is its willingess to present its subject in a less than blinding light for the entirety of its running time (something the sycophantic Michael Jackson cash-in, This Is It, could have learned lessons from). Sure, its main reason in life is to sell more Bieber records, but there’s something of a glimpse behind the curtain here, and G.I. Joe 2 director Chu packages it into a surprisingly entertaining film.
One of the reasons they might not make them like they used to is that many people never appreciated them when they did. Take the fantasy adventure, Krull. We’ve written about it in more detail before, but Peter Yates’ movie has ideas, good execution, and Bernard Bresslaw as a Cyclops. It’s a great yarn, with eminent rewatch value.
Leap Of Faith5.9 stars
A criminally underrated Steve Martin film, this, where he blends his comedic talents with a drama about a fake faith healer who arrives at a small town. There, he meets Liam Neeson’s cynical sheriff, and puts on some terrifically staged shows. It’s perhaps unsurprising that Leap Of Faith has since been turned into a stage musical.
The film pushes its luck a little as it arrives in its final act, yet it’s a engaging, often funny piece of work, boasting one of Martin’s best and most underappreciated performances. Do check it out.Leviathan5.4 stars
“Homo Aquaticus! A man who could live under water! Think of the possibilities!” Sadly, audiences of the late 80s couldn’t be bothered to think of the possibilities, and Leviathan was one of many underwater sci-fi and horror crossovers that sank without trace in the wake of James Cameron’s The Abyss.
Admittedly, Leviathan isn’t a classic, but it’s better than DeepStar Six, Lords Of The Deep and its other salty, ocean floor rivals from the same period, and its lowly status on IMDb doesn’t reflect its pedigree. It’s from the (sort of) Rambo: First Blood Part II director George Pan Cosmatos, stars RoboCop himself, Peter Weller, Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson, and Rambo’s Richard Crenna. Stan Winston and Ron Cobb worked on the effects and production design, and David (Blade Runner) Peoples wrote the script.
How odd, then, that the film is so unremittingly daft. It’s essentially The Thing set in an undersea science station (or something), with the shape-shifting monster delivered in a hip flask full of vodka, of all things. Nevertheless, viewed in the right frame of mind, Leviathan is a derivative yet hugely enjoyable B-movie.
Rubber 5.8 stars
Rubber is definitely a film that will divide people. It’s seriously weird. For one thing, it’s about a car tyre that kills people; for another, it has no concept whatsoever of the ‘fourth wall’ and frequently has characters addressing the audience. Actually, half the characters in the film are the ‘audience’. And the film starts off by telling you that an awful lot of things in life, and the movies, happen for “no fucking reason”, so you know you’re not gonna get a neat explanation for anything that happens. It’s gloriously and obnoxiously post-modern; you won’t forget this one for a long while.Rugrats In Paris5.6 stars
The first Rugrats movie was, in all truth, a bit of a muddle, and little tribute to a children’s animated series that owed plenty to good scripts, and some interesting approaches to the animation itself.
The sequel, Rugrats In Paris, is much better, opening up with a really quite inspired take on The Godfather (how many animated family films give you that?), before embarking on a more concentrated, focused adventure for Chuckie and his chums. Just try and bypass the music to get the most out of it.
The Ruins5.9 stars
Unrelentingly nasty – and yet somehow nowhere near as dark and inescapably depressing as the book it’s based on – The Ruins sounds silly if you just explain what it’s about, but in practice it’s horrifying. So brace yourself: it’s about a group of young tourists (including Shawn “Iceman” Ashmore) who find themselves stranded on an ancient monument of some kind in the middle of the jungle. Trapped by aggressive locals, things look bad enough, considering their lack of food and water or hope of rescue – and then it turns out the poisonous plants covering the titular ruins are actually sentient and murderous. There are some incredibly creepy ideas in this movie, and some gory scenes that are very, very difficult to watch. It’ll get under your skin.
See No Evil4.9 stars
See No Evil is a perfect example of a movie that doesn’t transcend its genre, but does perfectly embody everything that genre stands for. It’s a slasher movie, basically. Some young offenders are taken to a ramshackle former hotel to do some cleaning and tidying, in exchange for a reduction in their sentences. Unfortunately, there’s a maniac on the loose who doesn’t fancy the company. It’s not clever, but it’s coherent and well-paced and, y’know, it’s fine. 4.9 stars suggests it’s awful. It isn’t. If you’re in the mood for a slasher movie, it’s ideal.
Sexy Killer5.7 stars
We’ve tried to avoid mentioning films from other recent lists on this one, but we can’t let this stand. Sexy Killer (or Sexykiller: morirás por ella) is brilliant. It’s fun, gory, post-modern, funny and clever. It has a wonderfully deranged anti-heroine at its heart – and then piles on a twisted love story, zombies, and mad science. It basically has everything a horror fan could want from a horror movie. 5.7 stars is absolute bullshit.
The Shadow5.7 stars
Well, Russell Mulcahy’s film of The Shadow was never going to launch a franchise, but it’s nonetheless a slice of fun that deserves a better fate that the one that befell it. Alec Baldwin takes the title role, bringing to the screen a character previously best known for radio serials. In true wonderfully crappy 90s movies style, Tim Curry pops up, too, as does a strange creature that wouldn’t look out of place in a Gremlins knock-off.
Yet, for its faults, The Shadow is never dull, and Mulcahy’s film does have a zest and style to it. It’s far better than Billy Zane’s attempt to bring The Phantom to a wider audience, too…
Skyline4.5 starsSkyline does a few things. Firstly, it shows just how much special effects work $20m can buy you, as barely a nickel seems to have been spent on anything else. As such, it’s a bit of a hollow film, albeit one with far more of a sense of entertainment than the not-dissimilar Battle: Los Angeles.
So what’s in Skyline’s favour, then? Well, the effects are genuinely strong, and hold the screen far longer than they’ve any right to. There’s more fun to it. And there’s an ending that will leave you scratching your head, wondering if you’ve just watched something inspired, or just plain bizarre. Either way, there’s more than 4.5 stars’ worth of entertainment here. We’ve defended the film at more length, here.
The Specialist5.0 stars
Just the kind of action movie many of us would rather Stallone spend his time making to day. The Specialist is a pretty bad piece of filmmaking and yet, conversely, a massively entertaining movie. From the unerotic fumblings of Stallone and co-star Sharon Stone, to brilliantly bad special effects work, and the mighty James Woods on villain duties, The Specialist remains a breezy piece of action cinema, designed perfectly for television channels to start showing just after you’ve come home after a night in the company of a few drinks.
Unlike something like Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, Supergirl is a genuinely interesting piece of work. It may have been born out of a fairly obvious attempt by the Salkinds to wring a bit more blood from the Superman franchise, and it may fall apart by the end, but there’s a lot to like here.
The first half in particular, when everything is being randomly pieced together, remains fascinating. Peter O’Toole and Peter Cook are two of the more curious yet engaging members of a cast that seems a mile away from your standard superhero ensemble. Throw in Helen Slater, perfectly cast as the title character, and Faye Dunaway being thuddingly evil, and Supergirl is a long, uneven, but engaging adventure.
Tango & Cash5.9 stars
What do people want from an action-comedy? If you’re going by the score bestowed upon Tango & Cash at IMDb, then it isn’t a union of Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell, that doesn’t skimp on the action or the odd chuckle. That Tango & Cash can sit with a score of 5.9, despite the interplay between its two leads, and the collection of quotable lines, is a genuine wrong. This was a film that landed in the days when the buddy cop era was slowly coming to an end. Firmly 18-rated in the UK, it was, and is, a very good action movie.
The Ten5.1 stars
Role Models was director David Wain at his most accessible, whereas The Ten really isn’t. It’s ten stories, each inspired by one of the Ten Commandments, with a cast that includes Paul Rudd, Jessica Alba and Winona Ryder. It’s also, sporadically, exceptionally funny, far more so than the puny score of 5.1 would lead you to believe.
Perhaps that score’s partly in reaction to the fact that there are good chunks of The Ten that don’t work as well. But when it does, it’s another compelling reason to dig out the back catalogue work of Mr Wain…
Terminal Velocity5.2 stars
Two skydiving films, bizarrely, ended up going head to head with each other in the early 90s. The rubbish one was Wesley Snipes vehicle Drop Zone, which can be filed alongside other rubbish Wesley Snipes vehicles of the time (Murder At 1600, Passenger 57 etc). Charlie Sheen in Terminal Velocity was much better, a film with a much more certain sense of fun, genuinely strong actions sequences, and real lashings of comedy. What’s the three legged dog in the film called? That’d be Tripod. You can’t write them like that anymore.
Charlie Sheen did some fairly crappy films in the 90s. Terminal Velocity was not one of them.
Universal Soldier5.7 Stars
Killed in the Vietnam conflict, two soldiers are shoved in the deep freeze and then thawed out by scientists in the 90s. Unfortunately for everyone, one of these soldiers (Dolph Lundgren) has been set to evil – and only the pleasant one (Jean-Claude Van Damme) can stop him from cutting off the ears of every innocent person in North America.
Quite why this entertaining, deliriously-paced action flick has been scored so stingily isn’t clear – a weird mish-mash of RoboCop, Terminator 2 and war movie it may be, but a film that pits Lundgren and Van Damme against each other in a fight to the death surely deserves better. Besides, an absurdly violent action movie that takes its name from a song popularised by unassuming folk singer Donovan can’t be all bad.Add your own suggestions in the comments. And, er, feel free to tell us how wrong we are, too…