Talkhouse Film Playlist: Awesome August Sleepers from Joe Lynch

Director Joe Lynch offers up a list of personal picks from what he considers the most exciting month in the movie calendar.

By the dog days of August, when the superhero movies have all rolled out, the super-sized sequels have come and gone, studios and other distributors begin to release films that might not be qualified as “sure things” or could be seen as more risky affairs, not warranting a huge marketing push like the bigger releases. It’s also an exciting time for fans of the fringe, when genre movies get more spotlight, and films with more “voice” can be heard.

In most cases, films released in August over the years have by and large been more forgettable than the rest (Rapid Fire, anyone?), but every so often a few films released in August end up smashing into the zeitgeist, hitting a nerve with audiences still hungry for summer thrills, chills and laughs. In August, the release schedule is less crowded with big movies so for these other movies there’s room to breathe and let word-of-mouth take hold. In short, for it to become a sleeper.

August is my favorite time of the summer, mainly because over the past 30 years, I’ve been incredibly affected by a huge number of films that has been released during this month. So many of my favorite films of all time came out in August, from American Werewolf in London and Fast Times at Ridgemont High to The Iron Giant or the ’80s remake of The Blob, all awesome movies that have stood the test of time. August is a time when we can discover new voices, new tweaks on convention, or just the kind of badassery that would make more studio execs lose sleep if they were rolling out on more screens.

So, I’ve put together a sample of some of my favorite August sleepers from the past 25 years. Now, some might not have broken box-office numbers like Guardians of the Galaxy or The Fugitive, but over the years have proven to be lasting entertainment and influential to many. Again, this is not just about surprise box-office hits; it’s about how they affected me at the time and how they’re still firing on all cylinders years later. I’m sure I missed a few of your favorite but hey, make your own and share it with me!

It’s time to shine a light on a few sleepers (circa 1990-2010 or we’d be here all day) to fill in the rest of your summer vacation! Some you know, some you may not, but all are worth your time in the shade…


OK, so this was a hard list to make up, especially since the Talkhouse wanted just 10 movies. So, before you say “What about…?”, here’s a list of my favorite August movies from 1981 to now:

American Werewolf in London (1981)
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
Risky Business (1983)
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)
Fright Night (1985)
The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
The Fly (1986)
Monster Squad (1987)
The Blob (1988)
Married to the Mob (1988)
Parenthood (1989)
Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)
The Abyss (1989)
Darkman (1990)
Wild at Heart (1990)
My Blue Heaven (1990)
Barton Fink (1991)
The Fugitive (1993)
Natural Born Killers (1994)
Desperado (1995)
The Usual Suspects (1995)
The Fan (1996)
The Iron Giant (1999)
Bowfinger (1999)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Dark Days (2000)
The Others (2001)
Jeepers Creepers (2001)
One Hour Photo (2002)
American Splendor (2003)
Red Eye (2006)
The Descent (2006)
Death Sentence (2007)
Pineapple Express (2008)
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Big Fan (2009)
Piranha 3D (2010)
Bellflower (2011)
Hit and Run (2012)
The World’s End (2013)
Into The Storm (2014)
Call Me Lucky (2015)
Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)
Straight Outta Compton (2015)

Joe Lynch is a director working in various film genres, from horror to action to comedy (both intentional and unintentional). His feature credits include Everly with Salma Hayek, Knights of Badassdom starring Peter Dinklage, Steve Zahn and Ryan Kwanten, the anthology film Chillerama, and Wrong Turn 2 with Henry Rollins. Lynch also co-stars and executive produces the TV show Holliston and co-hosts the popular podcast The Movie Crypt on Geek Nation with fellow filmmaker Adam Green (Hatchet). He loves jump cuts, practical blood and making his days.