15 Great ‘Double Features’ That Are Worth Your Time

10. RoboCop and Terminator




Paul Verhoeven crafts a brilliant satire filled with social commentary and unflinching criticism, leaving few stones unturned in the unforgiving asphalts jungle that is futuristic America, as seen through the eyes of an extremely confronting, filmmaking Dutch.

Murphy (played by Peter Weller) teams up with Officer Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen) and together they take on the scummy filth of modern society. The film opens with an exhilarating car chase after which the duo find themselves next to an empty building. Empty with the exception of hiding crooks. They enter without backup and exit without body parts. (Lewis is fine, Murphy – not so much)

His shot-to-bits body is turned into a so-called “RoboCop,” leaving law-defying degenerates at the end of a three round bursting barrel. RoboCop is a metaphor for a so-called “American Jesus,” never to turn the other cheek and to always deliver big portions of tasty led.



The Terminator

The second feature is an early James Cameron masterpiece. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a killer cyborg sent from a “machines achieve self awareness and start killing their creators” kind of future. His only objective is to destroy Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) the mother of future rebel leader John Connor. The one sent to stop the Terminator is Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) – overall we have one fantastic time at the movies followed by a great sequel and two bad ones.

While Terminator is a more serious film, it does pack quite a punch concerning the entertainment factor, and with RoboCop, being more shits and giggles, it does present some challenging concepts, like a thinking man’s theme-park ride.


What They Have in Common:

Two amazing cyborg films from the ‘80s make for an easy sell for a double feature. One benevolent and one benign, one serious and one silly. The Terminator has one of the greatest ending conclusions of all time, sporting beautiful poetry – ending the film with flair. RoboCop has one of the most epically gleeful and silly endings of all time – ending the film on a high note, making your cheekbones hurt for a week. Both films set the standard for Cyborg Cinema and are not to be missed by anyone looking for an action film not made by/for dummies.


9. Bad Lieutenant and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans


Bad Lieutenant

Bad Lieutenant (1992)

Harvey Keitel plays a nameless bad cop who earns his title through daily dealings in corruption, drugs, hookers and rape.

He is a bad man doing bad things and he knows it. Can he be forgiven, can his soul be saved? There is a nun who gets raped without condemning the rapists. She forgives them. The lieutenant is filled with confusion and guilt, anger and despair. He wants to be forgiven but maybe he doesn’t deserve it. His body shuts down and his mind goes astray.

Keitel gives a great performance showing us humanity at a deep low. Warts and all, it’s ugly and relentless, with director Abel Ferrara never shying away.


Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Terence McDonagh in Bad Lieutenant

While Ferrara’s film is about “the burden of guilt”, Herzog states that his is about “the bliss of evil.” Therefore, it’s not a remake – Herzog never saw the original.

In the lead we are switching from Harvey Keitel to Nicholas Cage who gives a performance so perfect, so adjust, it nearly balances the thread between acting and overacting equally precise as Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Herzog commented on Nic Cage’s acting and said: (somewhat paraphrasing) “it is not he who is over the top, it’s the situation that is over the top, and he is only reacting.”

There are clear differences between the two films. One gives us catholic guilt while the other is stuffed with iguanas. One is drenched in immorality while the other has an alligator. One is gut wrenching to watch while the other has a break dancer for a soul. Moreover, it won’t stop dancing. Until you shoot it.


What They Have in Common:

We cannot even begin to think of them as separate films, they need each other badly. Ferrara gave us a tragedy while Herzog provided with a contrasting comedy and together they make for an unforgettable masterpiece.


8. Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Eraserhead and The American Astronaut and Pi and Un Chien Andalou and Begotten


Tetsuo: The Iron Man is a wonderful film by Shin’ya Tsukamoto about a man transforming into a metal man. Largely devoid of dialogue and filled with ingenious special effects, boasting some of the most awesome stop-motion scenes ever to grace the silver screen.


David Lynch’s Eraserhead (one of Stanley Kubrick’s favorite films) is a disturbingly bizarre piece of art. We suffer as the lead character suffers the unbearable Industrial noise – pushing through the walls, the screaming whimperings of his deformed fetus child (looking like a tiny alien), a raging girlfriend and more. Like it or not, it makes for a hypnotic viewing.


The American Astronaut (by underrated auteur Cory McCabe) is an amazing musical-space-western-comedy with wonderful songs, charming set design and great direction, giving the film’s feel good energy a massive boost. To quote the director himself: “It’s Buck Rogers meets Roy Rogers.”

The American Astronaut

Pi shows the blossoming of master filmmaker Darren Aronofsky. With some of the techniques, better utilized, in what is arguably his masterpiece Requiem for a dream, intense acting and intriguing plot, Pi makes for a thrilling time indeed. It features a math genius going mental as he tries to uncover the true meaning of existence.


Un Chien Andalou is the second first surrealist film ever made. Luis Buñuel and co-director Salvador Dali had themselves a good laugh observing all the critics trying to make sense out of the film, and it turns out to be nothing more than a collection of dreams the pair of them wrote down and made a film of. No meaning, no nothing, yet still, it’s a masterpiece.

Un chien andalou (1929)

E. Elias Merhige’s Begotten. In the beginning, there was a divine being. It sacrifices itself in order to give birth to mother earth. The patriarchal world, sacrificing itself, giving birth to the matriarchal world, which gives birth to a child – representing a balance between the masculine and the feminine, the earth and the sky. (taken from an interview with the director)

Begotten (1990)


What They Have in Common:

They are all surreal, small, avant-garde debut features shot in black and white. Side note: nonexistent dialogue.


7. Burden of Dreams and Hearts of Darkness


Burden of Dreams

Burden of Dreams documentary

“If I abandon this project, I will be a man without dreams, and I don’t want to live like that. I live my life or I end my life with this project.” – Werner Herzog

Les Blank’s brilliant making-of documentary is in many circles of film debate actually considered to be better than the film it’s documenting. The film is Werner Herzog’s mad project called Fitzcarraldo in which Klaus Kinski’s character Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald sets out on the insane quest of hauling a 340 ton steam ship over land/jungle/mountain in order to bring opera to the wilderness. This is all made without any special effects or trick photography.

“It is not that I hate it, I love it. I love it very much. But I love it against my better judgment.” – Herzog on the jungle being vile and obscene.

This is, alongside this double’s second feature, the most jinxed film production of all time. Seemingly, everything went to bits, with Jason Robards getting sick (amoebic dysentery), leaving the film all together despite having filmed a tremendous lot (40%), co-star Mick Jagger got lost too, as he had to go back with the rolling stones. Kinski takes over as leading man and with him he brings his scorching temper, having moments of rage and silly tantrums over just about anything easily fixed (the Indians in the film even offered to take his life).

The film could have made use of its original title: The Conquest of the Useless.


Hearts of Darkness

Hearts of Darkness A Filmmaker's Apocalypse

Without having preparing for the role, arriving late and being overweight, Marlon Brando presents himself as only one of the burdens of the one to rival Fitzcarraldo as the most troublesome film production of all time. Obviously I’m referring to one of Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpieces: Apocalypse Now, with the brilliant making-of documentary Hearts of Darkness directed by Fax Bahr, George Hickenlooper and Eleanor Coppola.

Francis Ford Coppola kept on saying how he was making a bad film, improvising the script and dialogue, Dennis Hopper (strung out on drugs) couldn’t remember his lines, Harvey Keitel lost the job after one week of filming and Martin Sheen then took over which in turn led to some more troubles containing alcohol.


What They Have in Common:

These are two brilliantly crafted documentaries shining light on the harsh conditions in which the original films were made. While the original films speak only as works of fiction, the documentaries brags proudly as the real pieces of life that they are. Are they better than the films they are analysing? Probably not. Are they making them better? Probably so.


6. The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth


The Devil’s Backbone

The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

This film is the brother and it takes place during the end of the civil war in Spain. It’s 1939 and Carlos, the lead character, is a ten-year-old boy who winds up in an orphanage inhabiting a ghost. One of the most, if not the most, beautiful ghosts ever to grace the framing of a screen. His name is Santi a.k.a. the one who sighs, a friendly ghost with blood floating out of his cracked skull. His boyish looks give him a chilling, melancholy charm, instilling a sense of sympathy, as opposed to dread at first sight.

Other important characters are Dr. Casares and Carmen, two loving old people who run the orphanage. Then there is caretaker Jacinto, the true villain of the film, a monstrous man who wouldn’t hesitate even to hurt a child. Another character would be the gigantic unexploded bomb that can be seen resting in the courtyard.

“History is ultimately an inventory of ghosts.” – Guillermo Del Toro.

A quote that sums up the film rather well.


Pan’s Labyrinth


The sister film is called Pan’s Labyrinth, arguably Del Toro’s greatest film, with the same theme’s of her brother, Labyrinth shows us the child Ofelia, coping with the brutal forces of fascism, in the year of 1944. She has a gaze of innocence, battling the harsh nature of her reality with an imagination, filling her world with fables, fauns, fairies and frogs. The creatures are, like all Del Toro’s creatures, scary, haunting and grim (the skinny-fat, child-eating troll called “the pale man”), contrasting with simultaneously being elegant, fragile and beautiful (like Santi the ghost).

A fairytale for grown-ups, so expertly photographed, you could pause the film at any moment during its running time without ever failing to capture an amazing potential poster, it has one of the greatest villains in all of cinema history, it is one of the greatest genre films ever made, and it is an absolute masterpiece.

As a child, Del Toro found himself talking to monsters, as real to him as any man, and he told them that if they would let him go pee he’d be their friend forever. He never saw them again after that.


What They Have in Common:

It is understood that the brother and sister that is this double feature are incredibly personal to their author. Two visually stunning pieces of eye-protein from one of the most interesting directors working today, both being about the innocence of childhood and power of imagination.