The Most Dangerous Game (1932)
”This world’s divided into two kinds of people: the hunter and the hunted. Luckily, I’m a hunter. Nothing can ever change that.” Famous last words! Joel McCrea and Fay Wray are hunted for sport on a remote island by Leslie Banks’ deranged Count Zaroff in this big-screen adaptation of Richard Connell’s 1924 short story.
The Lottery (1948)
New England villagers annually sacrifice one person selected by lottery in Shirley Jackson’s much-anthologized tale, which caused hundreds of New Yorker readers to cancel their subscriptions after it was first published in the magazine.
Death Race 2000 (1975)
Drivers in an extreme road race get points for killing pedestrians in the Roger Corman-produced Death Race 2000, which is set in the far-distant future of…13 years ago!
Body-armor-clad teams of bikers and roller skaters fight for possession of a metal ball — and just plain fight — in this dystopian tale of a corporation-controlled America.
The Long Walk (1979)
In Stephen King’s novel — published under his Richard Bachman pseudonym — teenage boys enter a walk-or-die contest. Yes, Stephen King can make even taking a stroll seem terrifying!
Can digitized videogame programmer Jeff Bridges survive a light-cycle race inside a computer mainframe without getting, uh, ”de-resolutionized”? Well, the answer’s ”yes,” anyway.
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
”Two men enter, one man leaves!” Understanding the basic rules of the gladiatorial Thunderdome is easy enough. Figuring out why Tina Turner is in charge? Not so much.
The Running Man (1987)
Based on another of Stephen King’s Bachman books, this sci-fi movie posits a future in which game-show contestant Arnold Schwarzenegger must literally run for his life. We offer no comment on whether that scenario seems more or less likely than his real-life run for governor of California.
Surviving the Game (1994)
Here’s a tip: If Gary Busey and Rutger Hauer invite you to go hunting with them — don’t!
Celebrity Deathmatch (1998-2007)
MTV’s Claymation comedy show pitted — and we’re not making any of these up — Kenny G against Flea, Benito Mussolini against Roberto Benigni, and Bob Marley against Shaggy (the ”Boombastic” reggae star, not the animated, ghost-hunting hippie…though that would make almost as much sense, really).
Battle Royale (2000)
In Kinji Fukasaku’s extremely controversial film, a class of Japanese kids kill one another on an island after being handed weapons, which vary from an automatic rifle to a saucepan lid. We’ll take the rifle, if that’s cool.
Series 7: The Contenders (2001)
In this dark satire, six ordinary folks try to murder one another for a fictional reality show that would, in real life, surely be hosted by Ted Nugent.