Nic Cage has been in a lot of truly great movies. Adaptation, Raising Arizona, Valley Girl, Mandy, Vampire’s Kiss, Face/Off, Into the Spider-Verse—in short, Cage’s catalog is filled with gems. But this list isn’t about them. It’s not even about the weirder but more critically acclaimed features that he’s lent his talents to, like the recent Richard Stanley horror, Color Out of Space. This list is dedicated to his bevy of under-seen (mostly direct-to-VOD) films that entertain despite, or perhaps because of, how nuts they are. There’s plenty of crime, serial killers, and even tigers to contend with here, and among the lot a couple of legitimately good B-movies. Basically, it’s a smorgasbord of Cage to keep you going.
Nicole Kidman and Nicolas Cage in a home invasion thriller directed by Joel Schumacher?! You might be wondering why you haven’t heard of this flick. Well, that’s because Trespass had a limited release and was steeped in production issues including Cage wanting to swap roles at the last minute. But if you’re a fan of claustrophobic little chillers about how pressure makes relationships crumble then you might find something to enjoy in this often nasty and surprisingly strange film. Ben Mendehlson also makes an impression and Kidman is very good.
The Frozen Ground (2013)
John Cusack is probably the only other contemporary actor with as many direct-to-video releases as Cage has. Here, the two team up for a serial killer story based on the real life spate of murders by Robert Hansen. Against all odds, the film did get a theatrical release (though a very small one). Cage plays a state trooper hunting down Cusack’s depraved murderer, and Vanessa Hudgens teams up with Cage to catch the killer. This film features a peak Nic Cage performance and has a lot to offer for fans of cat and mouse thrillers.
Pay the Ghost (2015)
Horror is a genre in which Cage excels and this weird supernatural chiller combines his modern penchant for movies about loved ones being kidnapped with some spooky ghosts. After their son goes missing on Halloween, Cage and his wife (Sarah Wayne Callies) begin to see their boy in unexpected places, sending them on a dark spiritual quest to another world.
Vengeance: A Love Story (2017)
Revenge flicks make up a large percentage of Cage’s video-on-demand catalog, but this is a standout. After a woman testifies against the attackers who raped her in front of her daughter, the rapists are freed due to their high-powered lawyer. The rest of this film consists of Cage’s disillusioned cop killing the rapists one by one. It’s brutal, simple, and pretty cathartic, but somehow manages to avoid the easily exploitative nature of the setup. Notably, this is also the sixth movie in which Cage plays a character called John or Johnny!
This movie gets a 10/10 for Cage wearing a crazy wig. Another of his revenge movies, this represents the later era of his VOD career, which features plenty of mafia vengeance plotlines. Here, Cage reprises the role of Eddie King from 1993’s Deadfall. Eddie is a sleazy mob boss who has to face down against JP, played by Entourage‘s Adrian Grenier, after he kidnaps his brother. John Cusack also pops up here but it’s really all about Cage, his wild performance, and of course that wig.
Where to watch: Tubi
Mom and Dad (2018)
Probably the best known film on our list, this mini-horror hit co-stars Cage and Selma Blair as the titular caregivers who are struck by a strange global hysteria that makes all parents want to kill their kids. A darkly funny twist on the zombie/virus thriller, Mom and Dad was a festival hit when it launched in 2017 and features a now classic over-the-top Cage performance!
Where to watch: Hulu
Looking Glass (2018)
If you’ve seen the 2007 Luke Wilson horror flick Vacancy, then you may notice some similarities in Looking Glass. But if you want to watch a less silly version starring Nic Cage in an unusually subdued and understated performance alongside Robin Tunney, then Looking Glass may be up your alley. The twist here is that Cage and Tunney decide to buy a motel only to find out that it holds deep and dark secrets. Surreal and bleak, this is a slow burn B-movie that doesn’t quite commit to its horror potential but still delivers some atmosphere and solid performances.
Where to watch: Starz
We saved the weirdest (in concept, at least) for last. Cage stars here as a big game hunter on a ship headed to the U.S. after a big hunt in Brazil. He should be living it up after capturing a rare white jaguar, but instead he’s facing down a dangerous killer and plenty of vicious animals on board. Yep, a murderer has escaped on the ship and freed the killer creatures! And guess who has to take them down? Nic Cage!
Where to watch: Prime Video
Header Image: Millennium Entertainment, Lionsgate, FilmRise, RLJ Entertainment, Momentum Pictures