This is the third post of my Pulp Wargaming series. Today I want to cover my Top 10 pulp movies for wargaming. And please note, this list is highly subjective. So let’s dive in.
Why movies matter for wargamers
As wargamers, we are constantly searching for new ideas. Not surprisingly, movies are a big inspiration for a lot of us. But watching them is not only fun, sometimes it seems that we can’t get enough. Watching Indy is cool, but let’s be honest, we want to be like him. Well at least on the tabletop we can!
So what can we as wargamers get out of movies? Well, obviously any movie has some kind of plot. This can offer some inspirations for our own games. Some ideas just had to be played on the tabletop. And some villains are so over the top, that they are perfect for our needs.
But the biggest advantage of movies over books are the visuals. Of course, there are inspirational books too, but in this regard, movies have a big advantage. You can really see the locations, the props and so on. This can be a huge source of inspiration for your hobby. Especially in regards to terrain making.
But now let’s take a look at my top 10 pulp movies for wargamers. While some of them are very popular, I hope that there are still some hidden gems for you.
#10: Bullshot (1983)
The dashing Captain Hugh “Bullshot” Crummond – WWI ace fighter pilot, Olympic athlete, racing driver, part-time sleuth and all round spiffing chap – must save the world from the dastardly Count Otto van Bruno, his wartime adversary. And, of course,
winthe heart of a jolly nice young lady. ( imdb.com)
The first time I watched this movie I was still a kid. Not the most serious film, but the plot, the setting
#9: Last Man Standing (1996)
A drifting gunslinger-for-hire finds himself in the middle of an ongoing war between the Irish and Italian mafia in a Prohibition era ghost town. (
Last Man Standing is a great movie. It includes everything you would expect in a pulp movie: mobsters, shootouts, ladies. Packed in a sandy ghost town, it is a hell of a ride. Honestly, just grab the Vice Alley supplement for Pulp Alley and start gaming. It is that easy!
#8 The Untouchables (1987)
During the era of Prohibition in the United States, federal agent Eliot Ness sets out to stop ruthless Chicago gangster Al Capone, and because of rampant corruption, assembles a small, hand-picked team to help him. (
If you need inspiration for crime
#7: Sky Captain and the World of tomorrow (2004)
After New York City receives a series of attacks from giant flying robots, a reporter teams up with a pilot in search of their origin, as well as the reason for the disappearances of famous scientists around the world. (
I guess there is no debate, that this is a pulp movie. Personally, I like the visuals and the whole plot. This movie could be easily converted into a great pulp campaign.
#6: James Bond – The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
James Bond investigates the hijacking of British and Russian submarines carrying nuclear warheads, with the help of a K.G.B. Agent, whose lover he killed. (imdb.com)
James Bond may be the most controversial item in this list. I guess as always it depends on the personal definition of pulp. I use this term in a broader sense, including spy-fi. That’s why 007 made it to this list. I picked The Spy Who Loved Me because it is very inspiring regarding pulp wargaming. You can find a mad villain, a secret base under the sea, pyramids, crazy gadgets and of course Jaws!
#5: The Phantom (1996)
The Phantom, descendent of a line of African superheroes, travels to New York City to thwart a wealthy criminal genius from obtaining three magic skulls which would give him the secret to ultimate power. (
Another great movie. Unfortunately, the movie isn’t that popular and wasn’t a big success. But indeed this is a pulp movie. Great locations and even sky pirates! Besides that, we are seeing a youthful Katherine Zeta-Jones in a leather catsuit.
#4:The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
Renowned adventurer Allan Quatermain leads a team of extraordinary figures with legendary powers to battle the technological terror of a madman known as “The Fantom.” This “League” comprises seafarer/inventor Captain Nemo, vampiress Mina Harker, an invisible man named Rodney Skinner, American secret service agent Tom Sawyer, the ageless and invincible Dorian Gray, and the dangerous split personality of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. (
Simply read the quote above. I guess there is nothing more to say. The cast would make a great league for Pulp Alley!
#3: King Kong (2005)
In 1933 New York, an overly ambitious movie producer coerces his cast and hired ship crew to travel to the mysterious Skull Island, where they encounter Kong, a giant ape who is immediately smitten with leading lady Ann Darrow. (
There are a lot of King Kong movies out there. Personally, I prefer the 2005 movie featuring Jake Blake. Even over the 2017 movie Kong: Skull Island. The latter is also a good inspiration, but I guess the 2005 movie is even a little bit more pulpish. Hell, some of the characters seem to be directly out of Bob
#2: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
In 1938, after his father Professor Henry Jones, Sr. goes missing while pursuing the Holy Grail, Indiana Jones finds himself up against Adolf Hitler’s Nazis again to stop them obtaining its powers. (
Honestly, this pick is more of a #1b, because the movie is simply awesome. It contains one if not the best hero ever, Nazis, a great plot and even better locations. There is nothing not to like about that movie! I chose the third movie of the franchise because, in my opinion, it is the best. But you can’t do anything wrong with watching the other flicks too.
#1: The Mummy (1999)
At an archaeological dig in the ancient city of Hamunaptra, an American serving in the French Foreign Legion accidentally awakens a mummy who begins to
wreckhavoc as he searches for the reincarnation of his long-lost love. ( imdb.com)
The Mummy is finally my number 1 pick. Of course, we are talking about the movie with Brendan Fraser and not the Tom Cruise flick. The latter is crap. The Mummy (1999) and the Mummy returns (2001) are one of my all-time favorite movies. The first movie is slightly better in my opinion. But
I hope you enjoyed reading my Top 10 pulp movies for wargaming. Obviously, I was limited to ten movies and there are a lot more, which would deserve to be on this list. The Quatermain flicks for example. But I didn’t include them, because they are way too similar to other films on the list and I want to cover a variety of pulp genres.
I also decided not to include any movies regarding the Marvel or DC universe. Doing so would easily expand the topic way too much. And honestly, most of the recent flicks made no big impression to me.
And last but not least, maybe some of you will miss Tin Tin on this list. To put it bluntly: I just didn’t like the whole franchise. As I said, this list is highly subjective.
Did I miss something in this post? What are your favorite movies? Put them in the comments. And as always, happy wargaming!
4 thoughts on “TOP 10 Pulp movies for wargaming”
I like The Adventures of Tintin series, animated 1991. It’s fun
Thanks for your comment, Telzy.Indeed, Tintin is a pulp classic.
I think you missed out “The Shadow” and “The Rocketeer” as pretty essential ones.
I wouldn’t include the Marvel movies either, except perhaps for the first Captain America, set in WW2.
Also: the first ten minutes of “Bulletproof Monk”.
Thanks for your comment. Indeed, great additions!