A version of this story was originally published in March 2020.
Sure, there's nothing better than sitting down to watch a great movie. But sometimes, you don't want to watch artful cinema. Sometimes, you want to see something totally outrageous. Something you can't believe even exists. Something that is best viewed at midnight.
So, while my colleague Will Leitch has ranked the 25 best baseball movies, that's not what we're going to talk about today. No, we're going to talk about the weird movies -- the ones that certainly aren't the best, but those that swing for the fences and do something you probably haven't seen before. Because isn't that what we really want, whether it's a ballgame or the movies?
Battlefield Baseball (2003)
Listen, I'm going to be blunt: If you care about things like character development or a plot that follows a linear path from beginning to end, this is probably not going to be the movie for you. However, if you're looking for a wild mashup of genres -- from horror to martial arts to ... simply the bizarre (let's just say that some characters end up becoming cyborgs) -- then this is the movie for you.
Sure, it's light on traditional baseball action, if by "traditional baseball action" you mean guys pitching to batters in the box. However, it does feature Japanese high school baseball teams facing off in some over-the-top violent battle royales, and really, what else could you ask for from two hours of your time?
Ever get mad at your team's front office for making a trade you didn't like? Could you still be so angry if your team was owned by ... a cat? Not only is there nothing in the rule book saying a dog can't play baseball, but no one has even tested whether a feline can own a baseball team.
The film follows the fictional Brooklyn Loons, owned by the eccentric Thaddeus J. Banner. When Banner dies, he leaves the team to his pet tabby. Naturally, this upsets plenty of people -- including the players -- but, wouldn't you know it: The Loons end up going on a winning streak with a cat at the helm.
This is a perfect movie to watch while cuddled up with your own furry little pal -- and the two of you can watch in awe when Leonard Nimoy appears in an uncredited role.
Mr. Go (2013)
Do you need to know anything more than this exceedingly simple premise: Homer-bashing gorilla leads team to massive winning streak? I mean, c'mon.
Plus, Mr. Go was licensed by the KBO, so we've got the real Korean teams, including the Doosan Bears, who honestly should have rebranded as the Gorillas after this movie came out.
"But Mike," I hear you saying, "this isn't a baseball movie. This is a sappy teenage vampire/werewolf romance movie." Which is fair, but ignores the fact that there is a full six-minute baseball scene in this bad boy. And when you think about it, how much baseball is really in those other romances, "Bull Durham" or "For Love of the Game"? How many minutes of baseball action are necessary for something to be considered a baseball film, anyway?
Night Game (1989)
Rejoice "Jaws" fans, because Roy Scheider is back to save the day. This time, he stars as detective Mike Seaver, who must find a serial murderer on the loose in Houston. But get this: The villain only strikes after the Astros win games started by fictional Astros pitcher Silvio Baretto (according to Wikipedia, Baretto was based on a combination of real-life pitchers Bob Knepper and Juan Agosto).
So, with the town on high alert while their baseball team plays, a real-life Glenn Davis home run becomes a plot point. How many Oscar winners can claim that?
The Battery (2014)
Two teammates -- a catcher and pitcher, hence the title of the film -- flee after their baseball game is interrupted by the outbreak of a zombie apocalypse.
While the premise is familiar, this is an indie horror film that emphasizes the indie -- a low-budget movie specializing in long, slow, meditative scenes rather than gory zombie attacks (though it has those, too).
Baseball remains an integral part of the film, with our heroic duo often passing the time playing catch and having impromptu BP sessions -- when they don't need the bat to battle the undead horde, of course.
Body Bags (1993)
Out of all the films on this list, this is the one you're most likely to see showing at a midnight screening somewhere. Why? Because this anthology of three shorts features John Carpenter playing a Tales from the Crypt-style host as an undead coroner.
For our purposes, we'll skip ahead to the third and final short (directed by genre legend Tobe Hooper!) that stars Mark Hamill as a ballplayer with everything ahead of him: He's in the midst of a hot streak that's put him on the cusp of reaching the big leagues, and he's got a baby on the way. Unfortunately, he loses his eye in a car accident and all those plans seem dashed.
Fortunately, there's an experimental eye transplant ready to get him back on the path to big league stardom. Only problem: The eye belonged to a serial killer.
Who will win out: Hamill's star-on-the-rise self, or the murderer's soul fighting for control? Pop this one on when the hour grows late, but be careful not to scare yourself silly.