Universal Studios pulled a very controversial and polarizing move recently by pulling their survival thriller “The Hunt” from its release schedule amidst the recent mass shootings, once again proving that Hollywood just doesn’t get it. In either case while many folks (me included) were excited for the film and are now angered at its being pulled and most likely shelved indefinitely, I thought I’d recommend five great films in the vein of “The Hunt.”
Films (and media) revolving around men hunting other men and or people have been in the medium since the silent era. I even read “The Most Dangerous Game” from 1924 by writer Richard Connell back in 1998 for high school. Here are merely five of dozens of great films in this sub-sub-genre.
What are some of your favorites in this ilk? Let Me Know.
The Most Dangerous Game (1932)
Adapted from the short story from Richard Connell, this pre-code masterpiece is one of the most celebrated literary to film adaptations of all time. Legendary hunter Bob Rainsford, played by Joel McCrea, is shipwrecked on the perilous reefs surrounding a mysterious island, he finds himself the guest of the reclusive and eccentric Count Zaroff. Very gracious and welcoming at first, Zaroff eventually forces Rainsford and two other shipwreck survivors, brother and sister Eve (Fay Wray) and Martin Towbridge (Robert Armstrong), to participate in a sadistic game of cat and mouse in which they are the prey and he is the hunter. There are some liberties taken, but for the most part this 1932 thriller is a wonderful iteration with an excellent atmosphere.
Surviving the Game (1994)
An adaptation of the classic short story, Ice T plays Mason, a homeless man with a tortured past who garners the attention of a group of wealthy men. What he assumes is a hunting outing turns in to a fight for his life as he ends up becoming the hunted. With his wits, he has to evade the group of wealthy, merciless, blood thirsty hunters, all of whom want his head. Ernest Dickerson’s action thriller film is wonderfully exciting, well acted, and features a huge cast including Gary Busey, Charles S. Dutton, F. Murray Abraham, and the late Rutger Hauer.
Battle Royale (2000)
Based on the hit Manga, this Japanese dystopian thriller is set in a near future where teenagers run rampant. In order to thin the population and keep them in check, a class of students is signed up for Battle Royale against their wills. With explosive necklaces on their necks, the students are sent to an island where they have to fight and kill each other until the last one is standing. The one that survives is allowed to live. Still wildly controversial, “Battle Royale” is a cult classic, and absolutely engaging in its stark violence and social commentary.
The cult classic from Japan is tough to find, but worth the pursuit. Set in a dystopian Japan, a group of contestants sign up for the wildly popular game show “$lasher$.” With a bunch of artificial sets comprising a labyrinth the contestants have to survive against a small group of armed maniacs. With no rules, and murder of all kind allowed on the game show, “$lasher$” is an entertaining meta-slasher with a great sense of humor. A horror tinged “The Running Man,” Maurice Devereaux’s cult classic is filled with sharp social satire, stark violence, and a unique premise. I wish we’d get a special edition in the states.
Ryan Connolly’s short thriller is another take on “The Most Dangerous Game” where a group of strangers wake up in the middle of the woods with ankle bracelets attached to them. Much to their horror, they’re being hunted by a group of armed maniacs. They can flee and survive as much as they can, the only catch is that if they don’t stay within close proximity of each other, the bracelets detonate blowing their legs off. “Proximity” is a sharp thriller with a great pace, and one I loved when it premiered in 2013.
Honorable Mentions: The Condemned, The Running Man, The Suckers, Slavegirls from Beyond Infinity, Fortress, Turkey Shoot, Hard Target.