For the most part, people assume that movies that never get a release in theaters are of poor quality. After all, you’d never expect a blockbuster movie or a film that’s nominated for Oscars to be released directly to DVD. Still, there are plenty of movies that never got a full theatrical release that has ended up being beloved by those that were willing to take a chance on something with a smaller budget.
There have been countless movies that have been released straight to DVD, and while most of them are indeed as bad as you might think, there are some gems. Let’s take a look at some of those films and pick out the five best that you can pick up for cheap. You’re guaranteed to enjoy these movies that were once almost impossible to find in video stores in the pre-streaming era.
The first straight-to-DVD film on the list was never intended to be that way, but there were a lot of outside circumstances that prevented it from being released in theaters. “The Interview” stars Seth Rogen and James Franco, detailing the story of best friends and media members making their way to North Korea to film an interview with Kim Jong-un (played by Randall Park). The film was met with pretty solid reviews from fans, but released on DVD before it came to theaters.
The North Korean government caught wind of the movie and threatened to attack the United States if it were to be released in theaters. Kim Jong-un even said that “The Interview” was considered to be an act of war, taking things much too far. Eventually, writer Dan Sterling said that he didn’t want anybody to get hurt because of his comedy film, and it took a while before it was released on DVD and digital, several months after the theatrical release was canceled.
The Boondock Saints
These days, we all know Norman Reedus from his time on “The Walking Dead”, but his career got started in earnest with the 1999 film “The Boondock Saints”. The film, which was directed by Troy Duffy, certainly wasn’t lacking star power. Outside of Reedus, the cast included Sean Patrick Flanery, Billy Connolly, and the great Willem Dafoe who received top billing.
The story details two Irish-American brothers who see a lot of gun-related action throughout the city of Boston, and we don’t want to give too many spoilers. The film was created on a $6 million budget and was only shown in five theaters upon its release. Thankfully for the film’s creators, Blockbuster was still around at the time and marketed the film successfully, leading to a lot of rentals and making the movie profitable.
Tremors II: Aftershocks
Another movie that went straight to DVD is the first sequel to the classic Tremors franchise. “Tremors II: Aftershocks” follows main character Earl Bassett, from the first Tremors film, as he’s offered a generous sum of money to rid a Mexican oilfield of the oversized worm-like creatures people have dubbed “graboids”.
Unlike the first film, Earl finds himself a love interest, geologist Dr. Kate Reilly. Together they fight back against the creatures that take them by surprise when they begin morphing into more dangerous predators, walking and using thermal imaging to spot their victims. Like the first film, the sequel has been named one of the best straight-to-DVD films of all time.
An Extremely Goofy Movie
Released in 2000 by Walt Disney Home Video, “An Extremely Goofy Movie” is a certified classic straight-to-DVD film that fills every 90s kid with feelings of sweet nostalgia. The film follows the loveable Disney character and father, Goofy, as he and his young adult son Max somehow end up attending college together and clashing socially.
Through setbacks and butting heads with one another, Goofy and Max reconcile and find their bond is stronger. The fantastic visuals, exciting plot, hilarity that ensues, and awesome soundtrack make this an animated masterpiece to remember.
Run Ronnie Run
Fans of the HBO comedy sketch series “Mr. Show” should certainly watch the straight-to-DVD film “Run Ronnie Run”. Released in 2003, the film had actually been finished nearly two years before then, but couldn’t find a wide release in theaters. “Run Ronnie Run” is a spin-off of the “Mr. Show” series, so of course it stars a lot of the familiar faces that include David Cross, Bob Odenkirk, Ben Stiller, and Jack Black.
The film never really got the attention it deserved as Odenkirk (now of “Better Call Saul” fame) said that New Line Cinema and director Troy Miller for tampering too much with the final cut. Eventually, the film received positive reviews and became a cult classic many years later.