Movies about humans hunting humans have never gone out of style. The massive saturation of this type of film was from the end of the 70s to the beginning of the 90s, but they appeared almost since the arrival of moving images. Lately, with the recent release of the purge: election year and carnage park, as well as the upcoming release of rob zombie’s 31, the concept is back in fashion. So in honor of today’s glut of movies about men hunting men, here are ten more to satisfy your primal urge.
1. The Most Dangerous Game (1932)
World-renowned hunter Bob Rainsford (Joel McCrea) is shipwrecked on a mysterious island. Fortunately for Bob, the island is owned by a man named Zaroff (Leslie Banks) who maintains a palatial estate there. Unfortunately for Bob, Zaroff is an avid hunter who has hunted all of the largest game in the known world and grew bored with the lack of challenge. Zaroff’s solution to challenge himself is to hunt down the most dangerous prey of all: humanity. Zaroff lets Bob loose in the woods with a knife and wits him and then sets out to kill him and put his head in his trophy room.
Based on the short story of the same name by Richard Connell, The Most Dangerous Game represents a symbolic, if not literal, starting point for the Humans Hunting Humans subgenre. the movie itself is a bit cheesy. Leslie Banks is a more flamboyant ancestor of Vincent Price here and the camera loves to focus on him while he’s mugging. the film is only an hour long and still manages to stretch itself out hopelessly, saving the hunt for the last twenty minutes. Also, Fay Wray could be literally cut out of the movie without affecting anything other than the dialogue. The Most Dangerous Game is still a very well shot movie and captures much of the coolness of the original story, as long as one gives it some slack for the era of cinema in which it was made.
2. Beyond the Reach (2014)
ben (jeremy irvine) is a tracker and guide who receives an offer of $1000 a day to lead a hunter into the wilderness in search of bighorn sheep. The hunter, Madec (Michael Douglas), is a rich trophy collector with no respect for anyone and a hateful attitude. while out hunting, madec accidentally shoots and kills an old man.
In an attempt to keep himself and his business out of trouble, Madec offers Ben a hefty sum of money to cover up the incident and pretend it never happened. When Ben rejects Madec’s offer, the older man holds him at gunpoint and forces him to remove his clothes and walk into the desert. madec doesn’t want to kill ben if he doesn’t have to, but he wants him to die by exposure. now ben desperately tries to find a way out of his situation while madec follows him and sabotages every attempt he makes to survive.
Beyond Reach is based on the young adult novel Deathwatch by Robb White. The book was previously adapted as Savages in 1974 with Andy Griffith as Madec. The movie changes quite a bit from Deathwatch but keeps the spirit of the story firmly intact. Jeremy Irvine is a strong lead and Michael Douglas’s villain is charming and despicable at times. the film is heartbreaking, tense and beautifully shot. The only major problem is that the last fifteen minutes completely avoid the deathwatch ending due to eye-rolling hollywood nonsense.
3. The Naked Prey (1965)
an unnamed man (cornel wilde) is leading a safari in the african savannah. when one of his protégés refuses to give a tribute gift to a local tribe, the entire group is captured and killed for his insult. only man is left alive, his death sentence is “the lion’s chance”. he is sent out into the wild completely naked and without equipment of any kind. after a short head start, the man is chased by a group of spear-wielding hunters. if he can find help before the hunters catch him, he can survive, if Africa doesn’t kill him first.
naked prey is an excellent concept. our hero is at a complete disadvantage and the opening scenes are especially exciting. unfortunately, the film loses momentum towards the middle when the man befriends a native boy. there are several quiet scenes that are perfectly beautiful, but the movie would be better off if the movie was a long chase sequence with no dialogue. while the naked prey does a decent job of showing African tribesmen in a time-respectful manner, a scene involving Arab slave traders features some very ugly racial stereotyping and actors whose skin has obviously been darkened to play a different race.
4. Race With the Devil (1975)
Two couples (Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Loretta Switt and Lara Parker) are traveling in their RV through rural Texas when they witness a satanic ritual. after witnessing a human sacrifice, they are discovered by the cultists and manage to escape with their lives. unfortunately, no matter where they go, the cultists seem to find them. paranoia and fear run wild when the entire state of texas is seemingly out to kill them.
the race with the devil is exquisite garbage; it’s liberation with a dash of satanic panic and a heaping dollop of car chases. fonda and oates are the poster child for 1970s cinematographic machismo, while switt and parker help develop two rather one-dimensional roles. the car chases and crashes are exhilarating and paranoia permeates every frame. the ending is too abrupt and it’s all a pretty cheap thrill, but it’s a lot of fun.
5. Surviving the Game (1994)
Thomas Burns (Rutger Hauer) offers drifter Jack Mason (Ice-T) a hefty sum of money to serve as a guide for a hunting trip he and some friends are taking. When Mason reaches the mountains, he discovers that what is burning and his friends (Gary Busey, John C. McGinley, Charles S. Dutton, Abraham F. Murray and William McNamara) will be hunting him.
surviving the game is probably the most blatant and dangerous scam on this list. It’s a typical mid-’90s action movie complete with goofy one-liners, explosions, and Gary Busey. the killer row of great character actors is sadly underused, but a couple of them have great scenes. the plot isn’t anything spectacular and the movie starts with the most interesting characters too early, but it’s a decent movie about humans hunting humans.
6. Turkey Shoot (1982)
In a dystopian future, sadistic Thatcher (Michael Craig.) holds dissidents in a prison camp; Now, a group of prisoners led by Paul Anders (Steve Railsback) is led into the desert and hunted down. Among the pursuers are a woman with a crossbow that fires explosive bolts and a man in a tank with a werewolf-like companion.
Turkey Shoot is Brian Trenchard-Smith’s schlocky masterpiece and one of Australia’s best exploitation films. the film is filled with almost all the hallmarks of exploitation movies. railsback is appropriately gray-haired in the title role and the villains are colorful and engaging. It seems counterintuitive to make a movie about humans hunting humans that’s this silly and funny, but it’s a treat for the eyes.
7. Duel (1971)
david mann (dennis weaver) is traveling down a desert highway when he pulls up behind a large truck that is belching smoke. mann walks past the truck and inadvertently becomes the target of the truck driver. the truck’s dogs drive along their journey, never leaving their presence for long. Eventually, the game turns deadly as the trucker seriously tries to end the man’s life.
duel was one of steven spielberg’s first feature films. Although it is a television movie, the duel shows all the care and artistry for which the filmmaker is now known. Based on a short story of the same name by Richard Matheson, the film is deliberately simple. We never know who the truck driver is or why he is after Mann, we just know that he is out for blood. being stuck in mann’s perspective makes the viewer feel isolated and scared of him while trying to figure out the situation for him.
8. Fortress (1985)
Sally Jones (Rachel Ward) is a teacher at a one-room school in rural Australia. One day, a group of armed men wearing masks take Sally and her entire class of children, ages six to fourteen, for ransom. the class manage to escape, but their captors give chase and cut a bloody swath of destruction across the field. eventually sally and the kids have their backs to the wall and she realizes that the only way out is to kill the men chasing them, the only problem is that she will need help.
fortress (not to be confused with the 1992 movie of the same title starring christopher lambert) is a pretty haunting movie. the young age of the children involved makes the film’s very gory subject matter particularly disturbing. Although the thieves hunting the children are a disturbing theme, it is when the children turn the tables in the third act that the film becomes especially disturbing. fortress is a unique film and deserves to be better known even among fans of the genre.
9. Southern Comfort (1981)
a squad of national guardsmen (keith carradine, powers boothe, peter coyote, and fred ward, among others) are conducting a training exercise in a louisiana swamp when they encounter a river too big to cross on foot. the group borrows some canoes that the locals have left unattended and crosses the river. the soldiers see the owners of the canoes and a soldier playfully shoots them with blank rounds. the locals return fire with live bullets, killing the commander and embarking on a manhunt to wipe out the entire squad. the squad struggles to escape as the swamp people pick them off one by one.
Between 1978 and 1987, director Walter Hill made some of the best films of his entire career. Movies like The Warriors, The Chauffeur, Streets of Fire and Extreme Prejudice are the results of this period. Southern Comfort is Hill’s best film to date and a genuine masterpiece of a movie. the film is tense and claustrophobic, the barely seen villains terrifying and seemingly omnipresent. Keith Carradine and Powers Booth give his career performances and the movie only seems to get better with each viewing. Southern comfort has an abrupt ending, almost the same ending as Race with the Devil, but it doesn’t detract from the movie as a whole.
10. The Hitcher (1986)
Jim Halsey (c. Thomas Howell) is transporting a car to another state when he falls asleep in the middle of the night. In an effort to stay awake, Jim decides to pick up a hitchhiker. The man says his name is John Ryder (Rutger Hauer) and although he seems a bit strange at first, he turns out to be completely psychotic. Jim manages to push Ryder out of the car and saves his own life, but this only encourages Ryder to follow him down the lonely desert road, framing him for gruesome crimes and thrusting him into an inevitable confrontation where he must kill or be killed.
The Hitchhiker is a cult masterpiece and anyone who hasn’t seen it should immediately do so. Rutger Hauer gives the best performance of his career as the deadly quiet serial killer. Hauer’s first scene in the film remains one of the scariest moments in movie history. Robert Harmon directs a tight and terrifying thriller, bringing to life an exquisite screenplay by Eric Red. The Hitchhiker is a movie about humans hunting humans that will stay with you forever when you see it. avoid the 2003 sequel with jake busey and the 2007 remake with sean bean.
other movies about humans hunting humans to watch
hard target (1993)
the plague (1997)
deadly prey (1987)
the zero boys (1986)
the hunt for women (1972)
the running man (1987)
first blood (1982)