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In search of unfound GEMS in movies... (1 Viewer)

James T

Aug 8, 1999
Tigerland - directed by the guy who ruined the Batman franchise(no wonder this went unnoticed, huh?) and a soon to be mega hollywood star, Colin Farrell in one of his first American roles.
Requiem for a Dream - Roger Ebert and Harry Knowles gave it notice, but earning 4 mill at the box office don't look too pretty.
Donnie Darko - I think enough has already been said about this.
Dark City - Original sci-fi with a then unknown Jennifer Connelly
Mallrats - Most people/critics hated it because it was different from Clerks. Personally, I think it is the funniest Kevin Smith film and since it's video release, has a strong following
The Big Lebowski - Another movie that did bad at the box office, but has gained attention on video
Boondock Saints - I don't remember it coming out in the theaters, but this is a great action flick

Ted Lee

Senior HTF Member
May 8, 2001
very cool thread. i'll toss in a few asian flicks that i've enjoyed - most of these have a lighter more humorous quality:
Link Removed - two gay men (asian and white) try to pull the wool over the asian's man's parents. to do this, they pull off an elaborate wedding scheme with a female friend. chaos ensues.
Link Removed - the story about a single woman who tries to open the ultimate noodle-shop in japan. a rag-tag crew of men assist in her training. very cute.
Link Removed - hmm...kind of hard to describe. the story about a conservative man who decides to take dancing lessons. i suppose it's sort of a journey of self-discovery.
Link Removed - a great story about a japanese grocery boy who is enthralled by the movie Satuday Night Fever. he is also a kung fu fan and adores Bruce Lee.
btw - did anyone mention "shallow grave". love that movie. also i'll third or fourth "bound" - love that movie too!

Todd H

Go Dawgs!
Senior HTF Member
May 27, 1999
Real Name
My favorite unfound gem...

Searching For Bobby Fischer

Why this movie didn't receive more praise and success is beyond me.

Julie K

Dec 1, 2000
Found one over the weekend:
The Attic Expeditions - a man wakes up without memory after being in a coma for four years. He is told he ritualistically killed his wife and a surgery that went wrong was the cause of his coma. He is sent to a halfway house where he has strange dreams of a trunk in the attic and the other residents start getting murdered, while it begins to be apparent that things aren't quite right and reality is rather fragile. Jeffrey Combs and Ted Raimi as two doctors make this great movie an even more special treat.

DaViD Boulet

Senior HTF Member
Feb 24, 1999
To Each His Own (1946, Olivia DeHavolin (sp)-not on DVD)
Joan Of Arc (silent)
Color Purple
Empire of the Sun
Patch of Blue
Kilometer zero (new film saw last year at gay film festival)
Secret of NIHM
Dark Crystal
Corina Corina (I just LOVE this movie)
Accidental Tourist (not on DVD)
And so many more...

Brian McHale

Supporting Actor
Dec 5, 1999
Real Name
Brian McHale
And Then There Were None - B&W Agatha Christy mystery - first slasher body-count movie too
This is a great movie. I'm sure the slasher/body-count comment was somewhat tongue in cheek, but thought I would make clear to anyone who hasn't seen this that it is most certainly not a slasher film. There are plenty of bodies, but very little actual on-screen violence.

Thomas W

Jul 29, 2001
How about "The Ninth Gate" with Johnny Depp? This movie was overlooked by many but it is very stylish and engaging....

Lary Larson

Stunt Coordinator
May 3, 1999
Todd H - excellent choice! One of my favorites, too.
Others (links are to IMDB):
Link Removed - Not your typical war movie - great performance by Gary Sinise. A victim of Columbia's recent MAR policy, consequently I don't own it.
Link Removed - 14th century time-travelers escape the plague by tunneling to 20th century New Zealand. Bad description of a great movie. I'm apparently cursed to have several favorites get a crappy DVD release - again only available in MAR. I'm afraid this one will never get a better release, so I might have to pick it up as is.
Link Removed - A great early Stephen Soderbergh film that tells a wonderful coming of age story set during the Depression. I've heard rumblings that this is on its way to DVD - but Soderbergh's a busy guy lately, so who knows? I hope he'll take the time to do this right (my curse notwithstanding).


Supporting Actor
Oct 14, 2001
Many many very good choices(Tampopo, Bobby Fisher, '25 BenHur, Dark City,.., I can go on and on), here's one

Pitch Black

Never heard of the movie before and kind of started to see it mentioned here and there in HTF, people just love it. Went around and looked at the reviews, and they weren't particular good, finally rented it at BB, liked it so much that I brought a copy. This is truely an HTF word of mouth find.

Another one strictly from HTF

Metropolis (Anime version)

Did it ever even had a general release ???

Louis C

Supporting Actor
Jul 5, 2002
"The Lords of Discipline" with David Keith. It was trashed by the critics because it "wasn't true to the book" and so it quickly bombed at the box office. But it is a great movie - after all some of us didn't read the book, but liked the movie - a LOT
"Groundhog Day" with Bill Murray. I know, quite a few here probably know about it. But almost everyone I've causually asked when discussing films never heard of it. It's way, way underrated, and one of favorite movies of all.
"Three Kings" - with that ER guy, oh, George Clooney. A very watchable Desert Storm story that takes quite a few unusual turns.
"Midnight Run" - with Robert De Niro. Very funny, and many I know never heard of it either. Definitely worth watching.

Roderick Gauci

Stunt Coordinator
Mar 3, 2002
I will divide my list into three sections:

a) Films that I never would have watched had it not been for DVD:

·FANTOMAS (1913-14) [2-Disc Set] (R2) and LES VAMPIRES (1915-16) – I had long wanted to watch these legendary Louis Feuillade serials which were particular favorites of the Surrealists (including Luis Bunuel) but it felt like an impossible dream, until DVD came along! Hugely influential and entertaining. Highly recommended.

·THE PENALTY (1920) – This was always considered one of Chaney’s finest portrayals but the film itself is surprisingly good; one of the many undiscovered gems from the Silent era and Kino’s “Deluxe Collector’s Edition” DVD is quite something.

·THE INDIAN TOMB (1921) – Although not among Fritz Lang’s most compelling efforts (perhaps because he did not direct it himself), this ambitious, two-part epic adventure is still an enjoyably thrilling ride; it is especially interesting in its serving as a bridge between Lang’s more accomplished DESTINY (1921) and DR. MABUSE, THE GAMBLER (1922).

·HAXAN/WITCHCRAFT THROUGH THE AGES (1922) – Forever on my “Most Wanted” list and immediately a favorite once I got to watch it; the 1968 “revision” feels somewhat redundant after going through the startling and haunting original version. A magnificent, uncompromising film that should be in every horror film fan/serious film collector’s DVD library.

·THE CAT AND THE CANARY (1927)/HAUNTED SPOOKS (1920) – This quintessential “haunted house” melodrama is perhaps slightly unbalanced in favor of comic relief, but it still has plenty to offer for the serious horror film buff/film student: dollops of atmospheric lighting, ingenious sets and inventive camera movement. It is accompanied on the DVD by a nifty Harold Lloyd short spoofing similarly themed films.

·THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (1928) – A highly regarded and very influential film that I had been longing to watch for years; a strange, eerie, artistic re-interpretation of Poe’s classic tale which looks fabulous but needs more than one viewing to appreciate fully. An interesting side-note: assistant director Luis Bunuel’s contempt for its director (Jean Epstein)’s style allegedly led him to writing his landmark debut, UN CHIEN ANDALOU (1929).

·THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC (1928) – until I watched this on DVD, I had no idea that the VHS copy I owned (and had been watching for years) was not the original version, but rather the 1951 re-issue print which made use of several “alternate” takes; to be finally able to watch this great masterpiece in its “original” version was a miracle in its own right. One of my most cherished discs.

·DRACULA (1931) (Spanish Version) – another one saved from the darkness of the vaults: a most worthy companion piece to the Browning/Lugosi version (shot simultaneously on the same sets). It is, in my opinion, one of the all-time top 5 Dracula adaptations, a highly atmospheric rendition benefiting from a great Renfield and a luscious Mina but suffering, alas, from an ineffectual Count.

·STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951) [UK VERSION] – I missed watching this during London’s NFT’s Hitchcock centenary programme; the DVD, presenting both versions, made amends and I actually prefer this to the “original” US cut! One of my all-time favorite Hitchcocks.

·THE SARAGOSSA MANUSCRIPT (1965) – Another film I never dreamed I would get to watch in my lifetime, let alone own the full-length version on DVD! One of Luis Bunuel’s favorite films. There can be no higher recommendation!

·TOPAZ (1969) [Restored Version] – I knew of the numerous endings but I didn’t know some 15 minutes had been cut from this underrated Hitchcock spy saga, and it is certainly a richer experience!

·THE WICKER MAN (1973) (Extended Version) – Though I am a bit bugged at the inclusion of a commentary track on the recently released R2 version (being the now disgruntled owner of its handsome “Wooden Box” R1 counterpart), experiencing the legendary “Director’s Cut” was an event in itself, and undeniably an improvement on the Theatrical Version.

b) Films that I bought mostly due to the quality of their DVD presentation:

·SILLY SYMPHONIES (1929-1939) [2-Disc Set] – I was never too keen on Walt Disney’s cartoon shorts but, having watched this amazing set, I realized I had seen so few of them; not up there with Tom & Jerry or Tex Avery, perhaps, but you just cannot go wrong with these delightful (and beautifully-crafted) gems. Now I can’t wait for the other Walt Disney compilation DVDs: MICKEY MOUSE IN LIVING COLOR (on order) and the upcoming MICKEY MOUSE IN BLACK AND WHITE and THE COMPLETE GOOFY!

·CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) – this one kept me from buying the “Universal Classic Monsters Collection” box set (which would have saved me a lot of money!) but I finally relented and was very pleased with the result: not the equal of the 30s classics, all things considered, but a very welcome addition to the pot and Universal’s nicely-packaged disc made the whole thing all the more palatable!

·ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS VOL. 2: REVENGE/BREAKDOWN/WET SATURDAY/MR. BLANCHARD'S SECRET (1955) and ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS VOL. 3: ONE MORE MILE TO GO/THE PERFECT CRIME/DIP IN THE POOL/POISON (1958) – Curiously enough, I never had thought much of these popular TV shows, even with Hitchcock’s involvement in them but, having watched these two sets, I have really been won over by these efficient little thrillers and dramas with a fair measure of the Master’s typical ironic and suspense touches.

·THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN (1957) – I had underrated this early Hammer title, perhaps because it was not very well known, but I was quite surprised by the film: intelligently scripted by the always reliable Nigel Kneale and with a classy performance from the great Peter Cushing.

·THE CITY OF THE DEAD (1960) – Atmospheric little horror film from 1960 which bears resemblance to two of the genre’s landmarks made the same year - Mario Bava’s THE MASK OF SATAN (BLACK SUNDAY) and Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO – and consequently suffered for it! VCI’s DVD is remarkable.

·THE MARK (1961) – An interesting (and, at the time, daring) social drama with good performances all over, including a top-notch one by the recently-deceased Rod Steiger; it’s the last film of his I’ve watched before reading of his untimely passing.

·THE THOUSAND EYES OF DR. MABUSE (1961) – With this film, I had a feeling Lang was attempting to recapture some of his former glory, or perhaps that he was running out of ideas, but that was before I watched this incredible companion piece to his earlier Mabuse classics…and a most appropriate swan-song it turned out to be for one of the giants of cinema! Up to now I have resisted purchasing its companion DVD, THE TESTAMENT OF DR. MABUSE (1962)/THE CRIMES OF DR. MABUSE (1932), but I might just get it one of these days!

·CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962) [2-Disc Set] – The first I’ve heard of this was when England’s “Empire” magazine elected its director Herk Harvey as one of the 10 best directors with a very brief career (others from the fantasy genre included Michael Reeves, Douglas Trumbull, Robin Hardy and Saul Bass): its shoestring budget and eerie atmosphere of unease makes it a worthy predecessor to George A. Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)...and I cannot say it doesn’t deserve its cult status! Another incredible Criterion package.

·SCARS OF DRACULA (1970)/THE MANY FACES OF CHRISTOPHER LEE (1996) [2-Disc Set] and DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE (1971) – Not Hammer’s best by any stretch of the imagination, but nowhere near as bad as some people seem to think and the DVDs, once again, are superlative; all in all, a couple of afternoon’s worth of nostalgic (not to say unassuming) fun.

·THE ASPHYX (1972) – A neglected little gem this, a thought-provoking hybrid of horror and sci-fi, and a very good-looking one at that; Hammer with feeling, if you like. Not exactly loaded with extras, but the restored Widescreen print is marvelous.

·THE NINTH CONFIGURATION (1980) – William Peter Blatty finally emerged from the shadow of THE EXORCIST with this highly intelligent (if occasionally pretentious) and frequently hilarious psychological drama; I bought the excellent R2 version and, although I would love to see the complete 140-minute cut, the outtakes and deleted scenes included on the disc will do just fine for now, along with Blatty and Mark Kermode’s affectionate commentary track.

·POSSESSION (1981) – One of the very few disappointments I encountered with a previously unwatched film on DVD: this singularly outrageous film is hard to take and harder to enjoy (particularly the high-strung performances); director Zulawski emerged as rather self-satisfied and pompous on the DVD’s commentary track, though he did try to explain some of his more indecipherable flights-of-fancy, and I wish Anchor Bay had included the notorious 81-minute cut on the disc as well to see how the American distributor “tried” to make sense of the whole damn thing!

c) Films that I actually discovered through the DVD medium:

·EL DORADO (1921) (R2) – A relatively unknown melodrama which I bought mainly due to its Limited Edition tag, proved to be a very satisfactory exercise in style with a memorable central performance by Eve Francis; it was quite influential in its day and is historically important for being the first feature film for which an original musical score was actually written (to be played live in theaters). Now if only similar DVD editions would materialize of Marcel L’Herbier’s L' INHUMAINE (1924), LE FEU MATHIAS PASCAL (1925) and L’ ARGENT (1928)!

·THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED (1926) (R2) – Championed in its day by Jean Renoir, this is another movie mainly notable nowadays for its historical importance, being probably the first full-length animated feature film ever, albeit in silhouettes. Actually, it is still a very engaging piece with a charm all its own. It is accompanied on the BFI’s DVD by an excellent 1 hour Documentary on its creator, Lotte Reineger, which makes you want to go and seek out her work.

·FIEND WITHOUT A FACE (1958) – I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found out that Criterion had released this on DVD; most reference books I have are not very enthusiastic about it, so I read as many reviews as I could about the DVD and I have to say I got pretty intrigued, so much so that I had to have it. Having watched it, it felt like an even cheaper version of the Hammer QUATERMASS films but quite engaging and enjoyable along the way, with some excellent model work of the creatures themselves and capped by a pretty violent climax for its time. What’s more the DVD supplements are a dream! If you are a sci-fi/horror fan, this little gem comes highly recommended!

·THE WHIP AND THE BODY (1963) – Mario Bava’s legacy is worshipped by legions of fans; I am not quite so fanatic about his work but he did make a handful of undeniable horror masterworks. I had never watched this one before I got the DVD and, in fact, I first read about it on the Internet: the plot may be thin and melodramatic but the photography and sets are gorgeous and several scenes stick in the mind, not to mention the fact that Daliah Lavi and Christopher Lee make up one of the most unusual couples ever to appear on a cinema screen!

·FANDO & LIS (1968)/LA CONSTELLATION JODOROWSKY (1994) – As with POSSESSION, this is one of the few discs I regret purchasing: not only was the film hugely disappointing (extremely muddled and tedious would-be surrealism, a million miles behind Bunuel), to say the least, but some of the content on the rest of the DVD was offensive to me as well (particularly Jodorowsky’s uninhibited contempt for Peter O’Toole, Omar Sharif and Christopher Lee, whom he directed in 1991’s THE RAINBOW THIEF). The commentary that accompanied the film was practically worthless but the feature-length documentary almost made up for the sour experience, especially as it went into the story behind Jodorowsky’s aborted adapatation of DUNE in some detail.

·VIY, OR SPIRIT OF EVIL (1967) – This again was a completely blind purchase for me and, while the film itself needs a second viewing to fully appreciate it, it is quite agreeable to look at (the color scheme and special effects are stunning). The disc also was brimming with tasteful extras including excerpts, probably the only surviving footage (?), from three Russian Silent horror films; there are also a handful of trailers of other Russian films to be released on DVD which are quite enticing in themselves, and make one yearn to discover more “hidden treasures” from the Russian heyday of fantasy film-making!

·DOUBLE SUICIDE (1969) – Another surprising Criterion offering and, although I am very fond of Japanese cinema, I did find this one excessively austere; still, it was beautifully filmed with some exceptionally clever directorial touches.

·GANJA AND HESS (1973) – One of my most startling discoveries on DVD: after having watched this, I couldn’t believe it wasn’t better known (I had never heard of it before myself!). I now consider it the 1970s most original horror film along with THE WICKER MAN; script and performances rise to the challenge of this “revisionist” vampire tale (which George A. Romero may have seen before embarking on MARTIN [1978])…and the funky soundtrack is terrific!

·THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (1968)/THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (1976)/COUNT DRACULA (1977) (TV) (R2) – These three BBC-TV productions offered interesting and generally satisfying versions of the oft-filmed classic horror tales; they do not quite manage to hide their low-budget, i.e. their television origins, (particularly the interiors) but the spirit and often the letter of the books was successfully maintained – much more so in fact than practically any cinematic adaptation – and all three provided classy performances from a variety of stars (Peter Cushing and Nigel Stock in HOUND, John Gielgud and Jeremy Brett in DORIAN GRAY, and Louis Jourdan and Frank Finlay in DRACULA). Despite their relatively high price (especially considering their bare-bones presentation) I would still recommend these titles for those who can play DVDs encoded in the PAL format.


Supporting Actor
Jun 13, 2000
Okay -- I have another little gem that I have not seen mentioned yet: Thunderheart, starring Val Kilmer Sam Shepherd, and Graham Greene -- directed by Michael Apted.
This is one of those films that I kept catching intriguing bits of on television,without ever seeing the whole film. Recently, while looking for the documentary film Incident at Oglala ,also directed by Apted and produced by Robert Redford, I discovered that Thunderheart was a fictionalization of some of the same material addressed in the documentary.
If you are interested in some of the issues faced by American Indians in the 20th century, and if you enjoy thrillers and films about self discovery, then let me point you in this direction. Incident at Oglala is not necessary to enjoy Thunderheart, but I rented both and watched them back to back and found that quite an interesting excercise. They are both available on DVD.

George See

Second Unit
Jul 14, 2002
I'd have to say.

REAL MEN: a very funny spy spoof with James Belushi, John Ritter. I can't get enough of this movie unfortunatly not on DVD yet And not announced.

I second alot of what's been said already good suggestions here.

Will K

Feb 6, 2001
I'd like to add The Deep End to the list. This is a great little thriller from last year that features a subtle, but utterly stunning performance by much-underappreciated Tilda Swinton. This is also a beautiful DVD from Fox.

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