"Brainscan's" John Flynn's Top 10 Movies, Ranked

If you're a movie buff who digs the unsung mavericks of cult cinema, then John Flynn is an underrated gem you need to get acquainted with.

"Brainscan's" John Flynn's Top 10 Movies, Ranked
John Flynn's Top 10 Movies, Ranked: Image on the set of Brainscan (1994)

While he never crafted any bona fide award-winning masterpieces, Flynn's gritty, pulpy flicks consistently pushed boundaries with their bold explorations of crime, drama, and searing social commentary.

From the hardboiled noir thrills of flicks like Scam and Best Seller to the brutal revenge intensity of Rolling Thunder, Flynn had a knack for injecting B-movie premises with a raw, uncompromising edge. He could shift gears to deliver blistering urban dramas that pulled no punches in their depictions of inner-city struggles (Defiance). Even his more outright exploitation-tinged horror romps like Nails managed to have a darkly clever satirical streak running through the gloriously over-the-top gore.

At his best, Flynn's work walked a tightrope of deliriously enjoyable B-movie grit and delightfully vulgar genre thrills while still finding room to wrestle with heavier themes about the darker sides of human nature. An unsung master of the gritty, pulpy, and provocative, the following ranking celebrates Flynn's cult gems, warts, and all.

Scam (1993)

Director: John Flynn | Writers: Ed Solomon, John Huggins | Stars: Christopher Walken, Lorraine Bracco, Morgan Freeman

Scam (1993)

While certainly a B-movie neo-noir that doesn't take itself too seriously, Scam still manages to be an entertainingly twisty little thriller with some fun performances. It has that nostalgic straight-to-video vibe that fans of 90s pulp enjoy.

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Nails (1992)

Director: John Flynn | Writer: Larry Ferguson | Stars: Anne Archer, Dennis Hopper, Tomas Milian

Nails (1992) Trailer

In the film, Dennis Hopper plays Harry "Nails" Niles, a law-bending cop-who goes after drug dealers who murdered his partner. The supporting cast includes Keith David, Carlos Carrasco, Charles Hallahan, and Jay Acovone.

Defiance (1979)

Director: John Flynn | Writers: Thomas Michael Donnelly | Stars: Jan-Michael Vincent, Theresa Saldana, Danny Aiello.

Defiance (1979)

The film features a strong central performance by Jan-Michael Vincent as Tommy, a suspended seaman who moves into a neighborhood overrun by the ruthless gang "The Souls". When the gang continues to steal and rob with impunity, and no one will press charges due to fear of retaliation, Tommy decides to take action

The Sergeant (1968)

Director: John Flynn | Writers: John Flynn, Dennis Murphy | Stars: Rod Steiger, Ludmila Kruglya

The Sergeant (1968)

Flynn's debut shows early flashes of his skill at psychological character studies, even if the descent into madness doesn't always work tonally. There's an admirable ambition here beyond its B-movie trappings.

Best Seller (1987)

Director: John Flynn | Writer: Larry Cohen | Stars: Brian Dennehy, James Woods, Victoria Tennant

Best Seller (1987) Trailer

A solidly entertaining neo-noir that maybe coasts a bit too much on its high-concept premise at times. But the cat-and-mouse thrills between Dennehy and Woods are still quite fun in that delightfully vulgar way fans love.

The Outfit (1974)

Director: John Flynn | Writer: John Flynn | Stars: Robert Duvall, Joe Don Baker, Karen Black

The Outfit (1974)

While heavily indebted to the brooding 70s crime saga formula, The Outfit still has its pulpy charms thanks to Duvall's gruff lead performance and Flynn's stylish direction. A true cult classic for genre fans.

Out For Justice (1991)

Director: John Flynn | Writer: John Eastlund | Stars: Steven Seagal, William Forsythe, Jerry Orbach

Out For Justice (1991)

Shamelessly cheesy but utterly entertaining 90s Seagal-ploitation at its finest. From the over-the-top action to the grimy NYC atmosphere, it revels in its B-movie delights with a sly wink. Pure nostalgic fun.

Brainscan (1994)

Director: John Flynn | Writer: Andrew Kevin Walker | Stars: Edward Furlong, Frank Langella, Amy Hargreaves

Brainscan (1994) Trailer

Brainscan takes its satirical premise about video game ultraviolence and runs deliriously over-the-top with it in mostly entertaining ways. The gross-out kills work like a campy cult gem for horror fans.

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Lock Up (1989)

Director: John Flynn | Writers: Richard Pearce, Henry Rosenbaum, Michael Burton | Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Donald Sutherland, Tom Sizemore

Lock Up (1989)

A rock-solid vehicle for peak Stallone as he grunts and sweats his way through the familiar but satisfying premise of battling a sadistic prison warden. It delivers the required macho action goods with pulpy gusto.

Rolling Thunder (1977)

Director: John Flynn | Writers: Paul Schrader, Heywood Gould | Stars: William Devane, Tommy Lee Jones, Linda Haynes

Rolling Thunder (1977)

Arguably Flynn's leanest, meanest, and most uncompromising film - a shockingly brutal but extremely well-crafted 70s revenge thriller. It's grindhouse pulp elevated to cult classic status through sheer hardened intensity.

Whether you're a dyed-in-the-wool cult film fanatic or just someone with an appetite for deliciously gritty B-movie thrills, John Flynn's oeuvre is a cinematic buffet worth digging into. His flicks run the gamut from sleazy neo-noirs to gut-punch urban dramas to wildly over-the-top exploitation horror romps - but they all share that distinctly uncompromising, maverick spirit.

While Flynn's work is unlikely to ever get widespread mainstream acclaim, that's kinda the appeal for his diehard fans. His films exist in that scuzzy, subversive space where pulpy genre premises get injected with bold, provocative social commentary and psychologically complex character studies. They're low-rent cinematic treasures that throw subtlety out the window in favor of raw, visceral impact.

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