Michigan is known for great cars, great lakes, great microbrews, and is the backdrop for some truly great films. Film Challenge Detroit 2017 is well underway, and this year’s theme is Good vs. Evil.
So with that in mind we put together a list of 4 great movies made in Michigan that would fit right in with this year’s theme.
It Follows – Directed by David Robert Mitchell (2014)
If you’ve ever had a dream where you knew you were being followed by something awful and unstoppable, but couldn’t get anyone to believe you, ‘It Follows’ might be the film for you.
Michigan native David Robert Mitchel wrote and directed this supernatural thriller set in Detroit. The movie did extremely well at the box office despite its shoestring budget and received critical acclaim to boot. It was lauded for its surreal and terrifyingly tense atmosphere and its original concept for a spooky film baddie. Plus the soundtrack hits the thematic nail on the head.
The film touches on mature themes from suburban decay to sexually transmitted diseases and wraps all this incredibly complicated commentary up into a malevolent monster that will have you looking over your shoulder for weeks.
‘It Follows’ is the perfect good vs. evil story to get you in the mood to make your own masterpiece!
The Evil Dead – Directed by Sam Raimi (1981)
Royal Oak natives Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi are the actor/director dream team for campy tongue-in-cheek horror that has you laughing one minute, grossed out the next, and leaves you truly terrified once the credits roll.
‘The Evil Dead,’ while not technically shot here in Michigan, was the film that put Raimi, Campbell and several other Michigan natives on Hollywood’s radar way back in 1981. It’s one of the first films that comes up when discussing the film industry here, so we’re bending the rules a bit to include it on the list.
The film pits five Michigan State University students against recently awoken evil forces in a backwoods cabin. The soundtrack, the camerawork, and the gory effects were all fairly revolutionary at the time and one can’t truly claim to be a horror film buff without having seen this flick at least once. Yes it’s campy, yes it’s extremely 80’s, but that’s all part of its charm.
Perhaps your Film Challenge Detroit entry could put you on Hollywood’s radar too!
Gran Torino – Directed by Clint Eastwood (2008)
Just because the theme is “Good vs. Evil” doesn’t mean horror is the only genre that should make the list. Clint Eastwood’s ‘Gran Torino’ is the critically acclaimed story of a grumpy Korean War veteran who begrudgingly befriends his young neighbor Thao, and ends up defending him and his family against an aggressive local gang.
Clint Eastwood directs and stars in this award winning film that turns the stated theme a bit on its head. One could argue there’s a battle of good vs. evil going on inside the main character as he learns to respect his Hmong neighbors. And then, more traditionally, he defends them against the evil of gang violence.
‘Gran Torino’ put Detroit on display for audiences around the country, and if you win Film Challenge Detroit, you and three of your friends could represent Detroit in Park City, Utah at the Sundance Film Festival!
Oz the Great and Powerful – Directed by Sam Raimi (2013)
It says something about our fair state that folks who make it big in almost every industry end up bringing their success back to Michigan. Director Sam Raimi has done that time and again. His dedication to his home state has earned him his second entry on this list.
‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ wasn’t a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but principal photography took place in Pontiac Michigan, employed Michigan workers, and brought stars James Franco, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff, Rachel Weisz, and Mila Kunis to Metro Detroit.
This one is another non-horror film that none the less fits the theme of good vs. evil perfectly. The movie made a tidy profit at the box office and Disney approved plans for a sequel back in 2013, but time will tell if it will ever actually get made. The original Oz books are all in the public domain, so maybe you could be the one to bring the next Oz movie to life!
Horror, fantasy, drama, good vs. evil pops up in almost every genre. Hopefully one of these will inspire you to get out there, shoot some video, and submit your masterpiece to Film Challenge Detroit by the September 22nd deadline. Happy hunting!
For rules and information on this year’s challenge go to FilmChallengeDetroit.com