6. Leviathan overshadowed by The Abyss (1989)
Coincidental premise: An underwater crew discovers something that doesn’t belong to this world.
Say what you will, James Cameron loves water. Nearly every film he has ever made features underwater sequences. The man actually invented a dolly apparatus that makes it easier for divers to shoot underwater. It doesn’t come as a surprise, then, that in 1989, he made a film that takes place..you guessed it right, underwater.
The Abyss is a dreamy, philosophical story of a search mission on a rescue operation near the Cayman Trough (near Jamaica), and features some truly spectacular sequences, especially the iconic alien water tentacle scene – one of the many innovations in the director’s career.
Leviathan is essentially the same story, but featuring more explosions and action sequences, and starring Robocop. It’s an underwater horror film and is a lot of fun if you enjoy the good old B-grade splatterfest.
7. The Illusionist overshadowed by The Prestige (2006)
Coincidental premise: A magician has to devise increasingly complicated deceptions/ tricks to attain his goals.
Fans gush about Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and Interstellar, but The Prestige is actually one of his finest moments and is criminally underrated compared to the other fan favorites. The film follows the attempts of rival magicians Angier and Borden as they try to outdo each other to create the greatest magic trick of all: teleportation. It’s a lesson that shows that audiences actually want to be fooled, both us and the audiences-within-the-film.
The Illusionist follows a similar path: but this time, but in the tones of a murder mystery. It depicts a magician’s efforts to save his love from the clutches of a brutal prince. While The Prestige is a science-fiction parable that explores magic behind-the-scenes, The Illusionist is a fantasy-mystery that wonders if magic can be used in real life to save oneself.
8. Rob Roy overshadowed by Braveheart (1995)
Coincidental premise: A Scottish chief fights British adversaries to take revenge and regain his honor.
Before Mel Gibson went insane, he directed a couple of pretty good films – Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ, Apocalypto. Braveheart suffers from many historical inaccuracies, but it’s still a great, multiple-award winning period piece.
At a time in which the period epic genre was failing to capture the attention of audiences, the film inspired a new league of historical blockbusters in the years to come – Gladiator, Troy, The Last Samurai, The Patriot (again starring Mel Gibson) to name a few. Rob Roy, released in the same year and starring impossible-to-kill badass Liam Neeson, has a very similar premise, but the film has been forgotten over the years.
It follows a Scottish chief who battles a British aristocrat for the brutality he and his wife suffer at the latter’s hands. While not as great as its bigger brother, Rob Roy is a decent watch, and unlike Mel Gibson’s film, explores the individual much more than themes of nationalism.
9. The Cave overshadowed by The Descent (2005)
Coincidental premise: Cave explorers get murdered by bizarre creatures that live inside the cave.
While The Descent is arguably the much more superior and better known version of the two, The Cave has its moments. Both films involve spelunking and characters encountering unknown creatures, getting killed by them one after the other. The main difference is that The Descent is an all-female cast. We will call both of them Alien, but in a cave and leave it at that.
10. Dreamscape overshadowed by A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
Coincidental premise: Murders that are being committed through people’s dreams.
Cult classic A Nightmare On Elm Street breathed new life to the slasher genre (ironic, isn’t it?) and is a great work by the master himself, Wes Craven (R.I.P). It features a couple of teenagers that are being murdered in their dreams by an unknown assailant, who turns out to be the iconic Freddy Krueger.
The films has been remade, followed by sequels, made into a television series – I don’t think any medium has been left out when it comes to the Nightmare On Elm Street legacy. It also features a then unknown Johnny Depp in his film debut. With its terrifying twists and unforgettable ending, the film explores themes of revenge, the problems teens suffer in daily life and the difference between reality and dreams.
Dreamscape, released in the same year, did not get that much of a fan following, but manages to be quite a good watch. The film is also about people getting murdered in their dreams: a government agent takes advantage of a psychic/ sleep / experimental project to assassinate the American president through his dreams. In terms of its plot, it actually bears much bigger similarities to Inception, both premises featuring dream projections and planting ideas inside dreams.
Dreamscape mixes science fiction with horror and could have become a classic in its own right, but unfortunately, time hasn’t been a good friend to the film (which also features a young Dennis Quaid).
Author Bio: Shomo has been working as a Creative Head in advertising for the last five years. He composes music and writes short stories and comic strips in his spare time.