I read The Hunger Games about a year ago without realizing that I had overshot my demographic by about twenty years. It made me think about better ‘people hunting people survivor action dramas. ‘ Since I am trying to be objective (& having not seen the film) I will be kind and use the word ‘emulate,’ not ‘ripped off.’ First, some stipulations…
To qualify for the list the films must have their protagonist in a dire life or death survival situation almost throughout, with real people, and no alien or supernatural forces. Oh, and the protagonist should live.
Here are my ‘Top Ten Survivor Films That Hunger Games Emulates’
10. Apocalypto (2006) – After watching this I felt I understood how Mel could have lost a chromosome, with his well-publicized DUI arrest happening just a few months before the film’s release, he must have had a Herzog/Fitzcarraldo moment.
9. Jeremiah Johnson (1972) – My favorite Sydney Pollack, and one of the coldest films ever. Brad Pitt would later attempt to emulate Redford’s mountain man in Legends of the Fall.
8. Die Hard (1986) – Incredible screenplay. Bruce Willis’ name has become a euphemism for ‘unbreakability’ due to films like these: ‘Dave somehow made it through unscathed like he was Bruce Willis when everyone else was fired.’
7. The Most Dangerous Game (1932) – Classic film with King Kong’s object of affection Fay Wray about an insane hunter who arranges a shipwreck just so he can hunt the passengers.
6. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – I know this is technically a horror, but it is based on a true story, with real people being hunted by real people. Whatever, Leatherface needs no defense.
5. The Naked Prey (1967) – African tribesman vs. Naked Cornel Wilde. Nominated for best screenplay despite having little dialogue. True survivor chase drama.
4. First Blood (1982) – Fantastic anti-war film about a Vietnam Veteran and former POW still fighting for his life back in the States. Hope you brought enough body bags.
3. Escape From New York (1981) – Back when John Carpenter could do no wrong, and we had no memories of a sequel to this, or a pudgy Ice Cube running around Mars. Imagine Snake Plissken in Hunger Games, he’d probably just like it there and stay.
2. Battle Royale (2000) – Without a doubt the most egregious rip-off that Hunger Games is guilty of. Plot: In the future, the Japanese government takes a class of ninth-grade students and forces them to battle to the last person. Sound familiar?
1. Deliverance (1972) – I’ve been to Compton, Harlem, and some of the worst spots in Baltimore and D.C., and I felt more comfortable there then when I drove through Arkansas. What ‘Jaws’ did for people going into the water ‘Deliverance’ did with strange hillbillies and me.
Highlander (1986) – Even with the awesome ‘There can be only one’ mantra that defines this genre I had to disqualify it due to the aspect of immortality.
The Fugitive (1993) – Barely out of the top ten, still a great mixture of chase and detective story.
Series 7: The Contenders (2001) – Game show where randomly selected contestants kill each other for fame. Excellent satire for reality tv and the hopeful premise for season ten of Jersey Shore.
Alien (1979) – Best sci-fi horror ever. It hurt to leave this one out, but I couldn’t open up the whole sci-fi and horror genre, that is not the point of this list.
Cast Away (2000) – Longest Fed Ex commercial ever.
Surviving the Game (1994) – Wealthy hunters hunt Ice-T. The rapper, not the drink. Great Sunday hangover movie.
Logan’s Run (1976) – A movie that actually SHOULD be remade.
The Terminator (1984) – What is awesome about this film aside from everything is that if she survives, then all of humanity survives. Cameron really raised the stakes on this one. This is the only Schwarzenegger I will mention lest I open pandora’s box. All of his films are survivor films.