Nowadays, Finland-born director Renny Harlin is usually referred to as Geena Davis’ ex-husband who directed her in the notorious Cutthroat Island. However his lengthy and sometimes unusual profession encompasses far more than that. As an example: super-smart sharks!
Although his latest credit replicate his segue into the Chinese language movie trade—together with 2016’s Skiptrace, a buddy cop flick that paired Jackie Chan with Johnny Knoxville—his filmography is heavy on motion films, most of which don’t fall inside the normal realm of “genre.” That’s why Die Laborious 2 and The Adventures of Ford Fairlane aren’t on right here—sorry, Bruce Willis and Andrew Cube Clay superfans—however we’ll admit we did stretch the boundaries with a few these.
Additionally, we left off 2014’s The Legend of Hercules (not the 2014 Hercules starring Dwayne Johnson; Harlin’s film starred Twilight second banana Kellan Lutz) as a result of it sucks.
6) Exorcist: The Starting (2004)
In 2004 and 2005, two completely different variations of what’s principally The Exorcist IV (although each are prequels) hit theaters. Studio execs who weren’t happy with Paul Schrader’s tackle the fabric (in a movie titled Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist) employed Harlin to “retool” the movie into Exorcist: The Starting, then ended up giving Schrader the money to complete his movie anyway. Neither movie emerged the winner when it got here to critiques—Schrader’s was typically deemed superior, however not by a lot—although Harlin’s movie, which got here out a number of months previous to Schrader’s and acquired a wider launch, did higher on the field workplace.
Fifteen-plus years later, all that directorial scrambling appears like simply one other foolish footnote in Hollywood’s everlasting quest to make a revenue by any means vital. Exorcist: The Starting is set in 1949 and stars Stellan Skarsgård as a youthful but already supremely world-weary Father Merrin, although the actor was truly virtually a decade older than an aged-up Max von Sydow was in The Exorcist. On depart from the Catholic Church, haunted by the Nazi horrors he witnessed in World Warfare II, and struggling mightily together with his religion, Merrin joins an archaeological dig in East Africa (a spot portrayed with considerably iffy cultural sensitivity) and discovers evil lurking amid the artifacts.
Truthfully, The Starting isn’t as horrible as present biz legend has made it out to be, although it’s middle-of-the-road sufficient to really feel unworthy of its place in horror historical past. For one factor, it leans manner too closely into ugly imagery—maggots, boils, pecked-out eyeballs, violence in opposition to youngsters—yielding queasy shocks that carry not one of the deep-crawling dread so completely conveyed by the 1973 authentic.
5) Cliffhanger (1993)
Admittedly, mountain-rescue thriller Cliffhanger is barely a style film, however there are a few components that nudge it excessive. Sylvester Stallone, who co-wrote the screenplay, stars as Gabe, a Colorado rescue ranger who blames himself for a devastating accident that sends a girl plunging a whole lot of toes to her dying (the place was that stage of pulse-pounding terror in Exorcist: The Starting?) within the film’s first act. Overcoming that guilt—and getting again within the good graces of supporting characters performed by Janine Turner and Michael Rooker—is a motivating issue when Gabe agrees to assist with a rescue name throughout a sudden storm.
That leads to not stranded hikers, however fairly a gang of trigger-happy thieves—led by John Lithgow, flexing a “British supervillain” accent—who’ve crash-landed together with the $100 million they’ve simply ripped off from the U.S. Treasury. Cliffhanger, which essentially takes place virtually completely on a snowy mountain, is full of jaw-dropping stunts and a few equally jaw-dropping surroundings—each of which bolster a plot that feels crafted from somebody’s chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter thought involving a heist gone incorrect and excessive winter sports activities.
4) Cutthroat Island (1995)
Harlin and then-wife Geena Davis had been roasted for this notoriously over-budget pirate yarn, which got here out virtually a decade earlier than the primary Pirates of the Caribbean film turned swashbuckling into box-office gold. We’ve already gone to the mat for Cutthroat Island earlier than, however to reiterate: it’s admittedly too huge and foolish, and sure issues about it haven’t aged particularly nicely, but it surely’s additionally a legitimately enjoyable film. How will you be mad at a movie that gave the world Geena Davis as a saucy pirate?
3) The Lengthy Kiss Goodnight (1996)
we love these costly pirates, however Harlin and Davis’ last collaboration earlier than their 1997 cut up was simply their finest. On this movie scripted by Shane Black, Davis performs Samantha, a small-town trainer with a cute daughter and a loyal boyfriend whose life can be fairly excellent…besides she has amnesia and may’t keep in mind something previous to the final eight years. As Sam quickly discovers, with the assistance of a non-public eye performed with nice elan by Samuel L. Jackson, she’s truly Charly, a super-spy murderer who left some main unfastened ends dangling in her earlier life and is at risk the moment her enemies understand she’s again in motion.
The Lengthy Kiss Goodnight gives some very satisfying motion scenes during which the frumpy Sam discovers the badass lurking inside, but it surely additionally provides Davis room to mentally puzzle by means of the 2 extraordinarily clashing sides of her identification—in addition to rip into the hyper-charged Charly character with relish.
2) A Nightmare on Elm Road Half 4: The Dream Grasp (1988)
A Nightmare on Elm Road’s third entry is usually praised as the collection’ finest. This fourth installment takes a extra lighthearted strategy to creator Wes Craven’s slasher saga with Freddy Krueger, a full-blown cultural juggernaut in 1988, grinning and cackling his manner by means of every kill. However you’ll be able to’t argue with its bizarre upbeat power, bolstered by a mid-1980s MTV aesthetic and prominently positioned soundtrack jams (together with the Fats Boys’ “Are You Ready for Freddy?”, that includes the villain’s personal rapping expertise) that make the entire thing really feel extra like a music video than a film at instances.
Although The Dream Grasp does land the merciless blow of killing off all the kids who managed to outlive the third movie—enjoyable truth, future Oscar winner Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential) co-wrote the script—there’s a depraved humorousness working all through, with wordplay (a personality’s canine is known as “Jason;” the heroine works on the “Crave Inn” diner) and exceptionally ridiculous murders, together with one during which a bug-phobic lady is remodeled right into a cockroach and squished in a Roach Motel. By the way, the diner can also be the setting for my private favourite scene in any Nightmare film, during which we see Freddy snacking on a pizza coated in meatballs which can be truly the tiny, screaming heads of his victims—a magically gross second solely 1988’s best sensible results may carry to life.
1) Deep Blue Sea (1999)
Just a few years after The Lengthy Kiss Goodnight, Samuel L. Jackson reunited with Harlin for a small position on this aquatic thriller that culminates in one of many best on-screen deaths in any film, ever. That scene helped elevate Deep Blue Sea into the cult-movie pantheon, although the essential premise (sharks change into terrifying geniuses after serving as guinea pigs for an experimental Alzheimer’s remedy), setting (a floating lab in the course of the ocean, with a storm rolling in), and the remainder of the forged (particularly LL Cool J because the resident chef) are additionally extraordinarily noteworthy. No listing of superior shark films is full with out this B-movie with a really toothy chew.
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