Culture & Entertainment

Before ‘The Hunger Games’

By: Guest Blogger
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Before ‘The Hunger Games’

By: Guest Blogger
With The Hunger Games: Catching Fire set to demolish the box office this weekend, you might want to wait a bit before seeing it yourself—who needs the crowds and aggravation? In the meantime, why not check out one of its cinematic forebears? Though Suzanne Collins, the author or the book series, claims that the ancient myth of the Maze and the Minotaur was her chief inspiration, it’s pretty obvious she was influenced by the following pop cultural touchstones, too: The Most Dangerous Game The granddaddy of all battle-to-the-death movies, this 1932 film (made by some of the same folks who went on to make King Kong) is a fairly faithful, exciting adaptation of the 1924 short story by Richard Connell. It’s about a man and woman trapped on the private island of a bored aristocrat and forced to compete in an elaborate game of hunter-prey. A solid B-movie classic. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? This 1969 Best Picture nominee isn’t a fantasy film: it’s about one of those winner-take-all Depression-era dance marathons in which poor people danced until their feet bled in the hopes of winning a big cash prize. In this case, the prize is $1,500 to the last couple standing, and the dancing goes on uninterrupted (save for short breaks every two hours) for more than a month. One of the most unrelievedly pessimistic features ever to come out of Hollywood. Rollerball In 1975, Canadian director Norman Jewison did this sci-fi film about a future world (2018, to be precise) in which all war has been eradicated, replaced by the gladiatorial game of Rollerball. James Caan stars as the world’s best Rollerball player, and the film documents his increasing disillusionment with the sport, which was devised by the global corporate elite as a way of keeping the populace in line. I’ve seen it several times, and still the rules of Rollerball elude me. The Running Man Adapted from a Stephen King novella, this 1987 flick stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a criminal (wrongly convicted, of course) forced to participate in a stalk-and-slay TV game show called The Running Man. If he or one of his fellow “runners” can elude the “stalkers,” they get pardoned and become free men. (Or so they’re told…) Though it’s probably the most famous film on this list, it’s also the crappiest, failing to do anything even remotely intelligent with the fertile set-up. Instead, it’s an excuse for more of Arnie’s one-liners. And holy crap those outfits are tacky! Battle Royale Many folks consider The Hunger Games a flat-out rip-off of this ultra-violent 2000 Japanese film, in which a class of grade-schoolers are dragged to a deserted island and forced to compete in the government-run “Program”: a winner-take-all battle to the death. If any of the kids try to escape, a collar fastened around their neck explodes, killing them instantly. Quentin Tarantino often refers to this as the best film of the past 20 years or so, so you can probably guess what you’re in for.
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Culture & Entertainment

Before ‘The Hunger Games’

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