This Sunday, February 4th, people everywhere will be gathered around their television sets, likely in large groups, watching hordes of beastly men duke it out on the gridiron. They will, of course, be watching the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots square off for the NFL supremacy in Super Bowl LII. Super Bowl Sunday, as it’s often referred, is a big deal for people all across the world, even those that aren’t football fans. Many even consider it to be a holiday and why wouldn’t they? All the holiday staples are present during Super Sunday — friends, family and food.
What if you want to get in the Super Bowl spirit but don’t really have any desire to watch the game?
You’re in luck because there are a number of genre films that take place in the midst of a major sporting event and I’ve gathered a list of them for you. The sporting events vary, not all are football related, and in some cases, the sporting event is more in the background and not as heavily featured, but at any rate, it’s a good batch of films.
The only thing left to do now is to call over some friends, order some pizza & wings, and sit back and enjoy.
Two-Minute Warning — 1976 — Dir. Larry Peerce
In the 70’s movie-goers were fortunate enough to experience the golden age of disaster movies. Universal Pictures was at the forefront with movies like Airport and Earthquake. Universal took that same basic concept, gave it to director Larry Peerce and had him create a football thriller with Two-Minute Warning. It’s the day of the big game, Championship X (not to be confused with Super Bowl X happening that same year) between LA and Baltimore. 91,000 people pack the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum unaware that a sniper is perched up inside with a SWAT team trying to capture him.
This is a fun little 70’s thriller featuring a great cast. A young Beau Bridges is especially impressive. Ultimately the film makes some mishaps along the way and fails to do something bigger. Two-Minute Warning reaches the end zone but is forced to settle for a field goal.
Black Sunday — 1977 — Dir. John Frankenheimer
Following on the heels of Two-Minute Warning, Paramount decided to get in on the football mayhem with Black Sunday. A terrorist group attempts to blow up a blimp hovering over the Super Bowl where 80,000 Americans, including the President of the United States, is in attendance.
Paramount brought out all the heavy-hitters for this one. The legendary John Frankenheimer directing, creating arguably his greatest thriller, and the all-star cast was carried by Robert Shaw and Bruce Dern. This film drives from end zone to end zone and pounds it in for six.
Absurd — 1981 — Dir. Joe D’Amato
Absurd is my favorite movie on this list and it’s not particularly close. This Joe D’Amato classic is about a priest hunting down a killer in a small town. The problem is the killer is some sort of mutated freak with blood that quickly coagulates making him nearly impossible to destroy.
This movie takes place on the day of Super Bowl XIV between the Los Angeles Rams and the Pittsburgh Steelers. We see clips of the game throughout and multiple characters talk about it. Does it actually factor into the plot? Not really, but that doesn’t matter. This is an Italian movie trying to pass as American. What’s more American than football?
Absurd is awesome and you should watch it. Luckily 88 Films put it out on a gorgeous region B Blu-ray.
Graduation Day — 1981 — Dir. Herb Freed
The first non-football film on the list comes in the form of 1981’s Graduation Day. This is about a masked killer that start murdering members of a high school track team. It stars Christopher George and Christopher George should be enough to sell anyone. However, if you’re some sort of freak that isn’t excited about seeing Christopher George there’s still plenty of sports-related mayhem here to keep you occupied. After all, this movie does feature a dude getting impaled by a spike attached to a football.
Graduation Day was released a while back on Blu-ray by Vinegar Syndrome in the US and 88 Films in the UK. Get one of those and enjoy.
Night Game — 1989 — Dir. Peter Masteron
Roy Scheider returns to the beach but this time instead of tracking down on a man-eating shark he’s on the lookout for a serial killer that stalks young women to murder every time Houston Astro ace Silvio Baretto wins a game. Scheider’s character is a minor league ballplayer turned Galveston detective.
This is a plot most sports fans can relate with. Yes, when our favorite teams lose, we get upset, but when our teams win we go crazy. Our killer just riots by slicing the throats of innocent women. This is a fairly standard thriller, but the addition of Scheider and the quirky plot make it worth a watch.
Pentathlon — 1994 — Dir. Bruce Malmuth
Pentathlon isn’t the best movie on this list but it may be the most awesome. My President, Dolph Lundgren, stars as an East German Olympic gold medalist that escapes to the US only to be tracked down by a former coach that wants him. This movie rules because I bet Dolph actually could have been an Olympian back in his prime if he wanted and that it all very believable.
Pentathlon actually doesn’t have as much action as you would think, but it does think outside-the-box and allows Lundgren to deliver on something different than what the audience may expect. Five stars.
Sudden Death — 1995 — Dir. Peter Hyams
Director Peter Hyams and action mega-star and Dolph’s Vice President Jean-Claude Van Damme teamed up for the second time when they gave us the awesome Sudden Death. This is basically a remake of Black Sunday but football is switched out with hockey and the Vice President is in attendance rather than the President. And that makes sense because hockey is more a VP sport, right?
Sudden Death was a box office disappointment and received mostly negative reviews at the time of its release. That’s mostly because people are idiots. Time has been much kinder to the film and it is now regarded by many as a Van Damme classic, which it is because Van Damme fights the Pittsburgh Penguins mascot.
The Fan — 1996 — Dir. Tony Scott
The Fan tackles the obsession many sports fans have with their favorite team, albeit to an extreme level. Robert De Niro stars as Gil, a huge San Francisco Giants fanatic. When the Giants acquire star Bobby Rayburn (Wesley Snipes) Gil is thrilled. After Rayburn suffers a chest injury that negatively impacts his play on the field, Gil’s excitement for his team turns into dangerous aggression.
The Fan is a pretty standard Tony Scott film. It hits all the right beats and keeps you entertained for two hours. It may never blow you away, but it does the trick. What would be fascinating is a remake of The Fan set in the modern, social media age when the line between fans and star athletes is more blurred than ever before.
Battlefield Baseball — 2003 — Dir. Yudai Yamaguchi
Japanese director Yudai Yamaguchi has developed a repetition over the years as a filmmaker sure to leave an impression. His brand of goofy gore and offbeat humor may not be for everyone but you’re not likely to forget it anytime soon. Yamaguchi got his start behind the director’s chair in 2003 when he adapted the manga, Battlefield Baseball.
Battlefield Baseball is basically a form of baseball in which one team must kill the other in order to win…I guess. The plot is pretty incoherent as the movie bounces all over the place. That’s perfectly fine, however, because the film delivers plenty of wackiness to make up for the lack of logic. If you’re looking for a part film look no further than Battlefield Baseball.
All Cheerleaders Die — 2013 — Dir. Lucky McKee & Chris Sivertson
Is cheerleading a sport? I think so and I believe many others would agree that’s why I’m rounding out this list with the delightfully entertaining All Cheerleaders Die. Directors Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson teamed up for this story about a group of cheerleaders that attempt to get revenge on the captain of the high school football team but get caught up in an unexpected supernatural battle.
I’m such a big fan of this movie. It’s funny, charming and suspenseful. Reminds me a lot of the 90’s horror movies I grew up watching. This would serve as the perfect movie to watch after the Super Bowl.