10 Most Underrated Movies Made By Great Directors

Underrated Movies from Great Directors including Dracula: Dead and Loving It by Mel Brooks, Death Proof by Quentin Tarantino, and 1941 by Steven Spielberg

Hollywood has a long and dynamic history of filmmaking, as well as a diverse range of talent to draw from. Over the last century, talented directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and Christopher Nolan have crafted amazing stories for viewers. Despite some of the proven and strong talent directing these movies, many good films made by visionary creators can end up underrated and unappreciated in their time.

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Movies can fall to the bottom of a director’s career for several reasons. Typically, it’s not that the film itself isn’t good, just that it doesn’t quite make the impression of the other titles in a director’s oeuvre. Often, a director will become better known for a different style, and their earlier works go unnoticed by even their most faithful fans. Still, these films deserve recognition all the same.

10 Wes Craven’s Sophmore Film Tends To Get Lost In The Discussion

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

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Wes Craven’s career is best known for his work on the Nightmare On Elm Street and Scream franchises. However, he also created a similarly iconic and long-running horror franchise with The Hills Have Eyes. The movie follows a family stalked by cannibals who live in the hills of the Nevada desert.

Craven’s second film, The Hills Have Eyes is nowhere near as well known as it should be, perhaps because aside from a single sequel – which received terrible reviews and was disowned by Craven himself – the series was dormant for decades. In fact, many fans believe the 2006 remake was the first of the franchise, which is understandable considering it fit with the gritty wave of 2000s-era horror.

9 Steven Spielberg’s First Attempt At Comedy Is Considered A Flop

1941 (1979)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>John Belushi in Steven Spielberg's 1941

Steven Spielberg has a long and incredibly dynamic career, standing as one of the greatest directors in the history of film. Along with writers Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, who would create Back to the Future years later, Spielberg created a lesser-known ’80s comedy movie, 1941. Starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, 1941 was set in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor and followed a city on edge about the next attack.

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1941 was full of slapstick comedy, homages to previous films, and a romantic subplot, perfectly playing on all the tropes common in war films. It starred an ensemble of great ’80s actors, including Ned Beatty, John Candy, and Warren Beatty. Savaged by critics, 1941 is often thought of as a box-office disaster despite making three times its budget during its theatrical run. 1941 was Spielberg’s first attempt at comedy, a genre he wouldn’t attempt again until Hook 12 years later.

8 Christopher Nolan’s Paranoid Thriller Has Been Overshadowed By Batman

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Robin Williams and Al Pacino in the Christopher Nolan film Insomnia

By no means is Insomnia among the greatest of Christopher Nolan’s films, however, it is worth a watch. Set in Alaska, it follows a pair of detectives sent to investigate a murder. Due to being so far north, the cops arrive during the month-long daytime, meaning its always light outside.

Detective Will Dormer, played by Al Pacino, struggles with insomnia brought on by the endless days of the region where the sun never sets, all while trying to catch the killer, played by Robin Williams. Insomnia is a relatively simple film as compared to Nolan’s other movies, and isn’t a great fit with the more cerebral movies he’s known for. Sadly, made between Momento and Batman Begins, Insomnia often gets overlooked.

7 Quentin Tarantino’s Love Letter To Grindhouse Cinema Is Better Than Most Fans Realize

Death Proof (2007)

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Directed by Quentin Tarantino as part of the Grindhouse double feature (paired with with Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror), Death Proof is typically ranked as the worst film of Tarantino’s career. This is no surprise considering how consistently great Tarantino’s film library is, as well as the relatively low run time of Death Proof.

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Starring Zoë Bell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosario Dawson, and Kurt Russell as the deadly Stuntman Mike, Death Proof follows a serial killer who uses his stunt car to murder unsuspecting college students. When Stuntman Mike messes with the wrong women, the killer faces the long and painful road to revenge.

6 Kevin Smith’s Latest Film May Be His Best

Clerks III (2022)

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Although younger audiences may not have the same connection to Kevin Smith’s work as Gen X does, the filmmaker has made some solid comedies over the years. While his best work can be found in films like Dogma, Mallrats, and Clerks, his conclusion to the story of Dante and Randall in Clerks III was truly beautiful.

Unfortunately, Smith’s weaker effort on Jay and Silent Bob: the Reboot left many of his devoted fans disappointed and unwilling to give his next film a chance. However, Clerks III should change their minds. It is a sincere, heartfelt, and touching story, and easily Smith’s most beautiful as well as his most emotional film to date.

5 Mel Brooks’ Final Spoof Kicked Off A New Era For The Genre

Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)

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Mel Brooks helped define the spoof era of comedy movies with his films like Young Frankenstein and Spaceballs. In Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Brooks delivered a great comedic spin on the tale of the famous vampire, played by comedy legend Leslie Nielsen who became famous for starring in classic spoof movies Airplane and Naked Gun.

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Dracula: Dead and Loving It led into a decade of horror-comedy spoofs, which continued with the Scary Movie and Not Another… franchises. It didn’t really achieve the same cinematic classic status of Mel Brooks’ earlier works and isn’t considered one of Leslie Nielsen’s best works either, but the movie has some classic moments that fans will quote forever.

4 Audiences Struggled To See Sylvester Stallone As A Comedy Star In One Of John Landis’ Better Movies

Oscar (1991)

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John Landis is one of the best comedy directors of the ’80s and ’90s, having helmed such classics as The Blues Brothers, Coming to America, and Trading Places. In 1991, Landis directed Oscar, a comedy focused on a gangster, played by action star Sylvester Stallone, trying to reform and live an honest life.

With the Rocky series and action movies like Cobra and Tango & Cash being what Stallone was best known for at the time, audiences weren’t ready to give the actor a chance to show off his comedy chops. Despite the great combination of star and director, Oscar is one of the most underrated films in either creator’s film library and well worth a watch.

3 John Carpenter’s Trip To Mars Couldn’t Compete With His Other Sci-Fi Classics

Ghosts of Mars (2001)

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One of John Carpenter’s last feature-length movies before his semi-retirement, Ghosts of Mars is a great combination of action, science fiction and horror. The movie, which stars Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, and Jason Statham, takes place in a small mining outpost on Mars and follows a team of marshals charged with finding and transporting a fugitive.

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Ghosts of Mars is a great use of the zombie sub-genre, and its unusual setting adds to the fun. Unfortunately, it was one of John Carpenter’s lesser known films and never gained the same cult status as some of his other classics, like Escape From New York, Big Trouble in Little China, and The Thing.

2 Even Tom Hanks Is Sad That Sam Mendes’ Comic Book Movie Is Overlooked

Road to Perdition (2002)

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Based on the comic by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner, Road To Perdition is set in the 1920s, and follows Michael Sullivan, an enforcer for the Irish mob. The adopted son of the mob boss, Michael is forced to take his son on the road when he witnesses a mob hit and his wife and other son are murdered. The father and son take to the road, intent on seeking revenge on the mob boss and his own murderous son.

Road to Perdition was directed by Sam Mendes, who is best known for American Beauty and his tenure working on the Daniel Craig James Bond movies, and stars Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, and Jude Law. While the movie was a critical and commercial success and was nominated for six Academy Awards (winning for Best Cinematography), Road to Perdition seems to have been forgotten over time, which upsets Hanks.

1 Audiences May Not Have Been Ready For Alfred Hitchcock’s More Experimental Thrillers

Rope (1948)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Hitchcock Rope Phillip Brandon and Rupert copy

Hitchcock’s legacy has largely been maintained by his biggest and most well-known hits, which have endured as cinematic classics. While even people who haven’t seen his films can reference Psycho, Vertigo, and North By Northwest, even some who enjoy his films have forgotten many of them. Rope is one Hitchcock film that often goes under the radar.

Filmed to appear as if the movie has as few cuts as possible, Rope follows two young men who, after murdering their friend, host a party at their apartment to establish the perfect murder. When one of their friends begins to suspect what they have done, they attempt to justify to themselves why their actions were acceptable. At the time of release, the homosexual subtext between the characters Brandon and Phillip, plated by John Dall and Farley Granger, led to the film getting mixed reviews and gaining a reputation as a “lesser” Hitchcock movie.

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