Best Independent Films of All Time

Independent films are some of the finest entertainment your dollar can buy. An independent film is simple a motion picture that does not have a major studio backing it. Although the days of the so called “Studio System” are over, the remaining major film studios such as Universal, Warner Brothers, Paramount and 20th Century Fox still wield quite a bit of influence in the industry.

However, independent films are making great inroads in Hollywood. No longer relegated to obscure art films, some important films over the last several years have been independently produced. Here are just a few.

Gross Pointe Blank (1997)

John Cusak, Dan Ackroyd, and Minnie Driver star in the taut comedy about a professional hit man who combines a job with his ten year high school reunion. Driver is the girl he jilted at the Prom before he disappeared into oblivion, while Ackroyd has a devious turn as a rival hit man. Cusak’s two sisters, Ann and Joan each play supporting roles in this film directed by George Armitage.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

George Romero wrote, directed, and produced this horror film which quickly achieved cult classic status. Filmed on a shoestring budget, (reportedly $114,000.00) and shot in black and white to save money, Romero didn’t have far to look for his financial backers. Many of them starred in the film. The story is about a group of people who flock to an isolated farmhouse to escape dozens of corpses whom have come back to life, and are attacking and killing the living. The film spawned a spate of sequels and a remake in 1990. Beware, the ending has a shocking twist.

THX-1138 (1971)

This is the film that launched a legend. George Lucas directed this film under Francis Ford Coppola’s newly formed American Zoetrope production company. While the film itself was a commercial failure, Lucas was noticed and was allowed to make the film American Graffiti. He made the move which starred Robert Duval, and Donald Pleasance in this longer version of his film school thesis film; Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB. The story is about a man and a woman who rebel against their rigidly controlled futuristic society. Lucas went on to create the Star Wars Saga, and with film school colleague Stephen Spielberg, the Indiana Jones movies.

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

This extremely low budgeted film ( $22,000.00) was shot with a hand held camera purchased at a Circuit City, which was returned for a refund at the conclusion of filming. The film was marketed as a documentary about three film students who went into the Maryland woods in 1994 to make a film about a local urban legend, The Blair Witch. According to the hype surrounding the film, the footage had been found but the students never were. The hype worked, the movie made $240 million at the box office. This was quite a return on the cost of the film. The movie has been referenced in other films and television since, and parodied.

The Evil Dead (1981)

Three friends from Detroit, Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, and Bruce Campbell decided in the late 70’s to get in on the movie business. Tapert produced, Raimi directed, and Campbell, arguably the better looking of the three was the star. The story was about five friends who while staying in a cabin come across a book called The Necromicon (The Book of the Dead) There is also a taped translation of the book. Naturally they play the tape, and a campy horrorfest ensues. The film continued in The Evil Dead 2 (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992) The three friends produced Xena: Warrior Princess, and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys for television. Sam Raimi directed the Spiderman Trilogy to great commercial and critical success.

These are but a few independent films that have reached either critical or commercial success. Major studios are not the only option for quality film entertainment.


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