HBO Max has a deeper bench of vintage Hollywood movies than a lot of their competition in the world of streaming. They also tend to add and drop titles more frequently than other services; most of their titles are still licensed from the major studios and are therefore subject to the whims of short-term contracts. That means you need to stay on top of what’s getting added — and more importantly what’s leaving, lest something vanish from your My List before you get to watch it. With that in mind, here are some of the best films that are about to be removed from HBO Max in February. (Most are at the end of the month, so you’ve still got some time to catch them.)
The Conjuring (2013)
The timing here isn’t great; The Conjuring’s first sequel in five years, The Devil Made Me Do It, premieres on HBO Max in June so if you want a refresher on the original, you’re running out of time. It’s easy to see why this film launched an entire cinematic universe. Husband and wife ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) are perfect movie protagonists and James Wan’s direction hits all the right spooky notes. Leaving on February 20.
In his second feature as a director, Jordan Peele takes viewers into a cinematic funhouse of doppelgangers, class commentary, and ’80s nostalgia. Lupita Nyong’o gives an unforgettable dual performance as both happily married Adelaide and her evil duplicate Red, who leads exact copies of Adelaide’s entire family in an assault on their home. Along with Get Out, Us cemented Peele’s position as one of his generation’s boldest and smartest genre filmmakers. Leaving on February 22.
I would call Congo a guilty pleasure, except I feel no guilt whatsoever about loving it. The actors are having a blast (Ernie Hudson is charming as all get out and Tim Curry is a hoot — his accent is so thick, he almost literally hoots a few times), the cast is nothing but Hall of Fame That Guys (Bruce Campbell! Joe Pantoliano! Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje! Joe Don Baker! Grant Heslov! John Hawkes! Delroy Lindo in an uncredited role!) and the plot is so pulpy Tropicana should bottle it and sell it as a new variety of orange juice. It’s so rare to find a movie that’s both this deliberately silly (there’s a whole sequence built around a terrifying hippo attack) and this drenched in genuine pathos. (When Tim Curry looks at the Lost City of Zinj … I mean, come on!) It’s pure schlock — but it’s also pure schlock. Leaving on February 28.
Dick Tracy (1990)
I wrote about Dick Tracy at length last year, after revisiting it for the first time in decades. Briefly, though, it’s a stunning work of comic book production design and makeup — not to mention one of the most inappropriate children’s movies ever. Warren Beatty is the square-jawed lawman who uses his high-tech radio wristwatch (so high-tech!) to stop Al Pacino’s magnificently over-the-top Big Boy Caprice. Leaving on February 28.
Doctor Sleep: Director’s Cut (2020)
This is one I’ve got to watch before it leaves. I liked Doctor Sleep when it premiered in theaters (“Doctor Sleep may be based on a book and a movie and a book that was a sequel to the first book, but much of it feels like it was ripped right out of Mike Flanagan’s soul,” I wrote at the time) but I never caught up with its director’s cut, which runs 30 minutes longer, and is supposedly even better. In this sequel to The Shining, Ewan McGregor plays the grownup Danny Torrance, who discovers his inner demons are far scarier than whatever lurks in the Overlook Hotel’s Room 237. Leaving on February 28.
Logan’s Run (1976)
Three ’70s sci-fi classics are all vanishing from HBO Max in February. In Logan’s Run, the survivors of an apocalypse live in a utopia maintained by killing every person who reaches the age of 30. Although a remake has been rumored for many years, it’s never come to pass. So for now, if you want to go on Logan’s run, you’ll need this supremely discofied version. Leaving on February 28.
The Omega Man (1971)
Logan’s Run makes a solid double feature with The Omega Man, the ’70s film version of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. Charlton Heston stars as the last man on Earth, who tools around an empty Los Angeles, watching the concert film Woodstock in an empty movie theater, and killing the mutated survivors of a biological plague. The makeup effects on “The Family” aren’t convincing, but the scenes of Heston wandering the ruins of Los Angeles are legitimately haunting. Leaving on February 28.
Soylent Green (1973)
Or hey: Why not make it a triple sci-fi feature with Soylent Green? In this Heston ’70s jam, he’s dropped into the middle of a ruined world and a mystery that threatens to expose his futuristic society’s darkest secret. The world of Soylent Green is quickly collapsing due to global warming, overpopulation, and pollution. But good news! The film is set in 2022, so we have ten months to fix all that stuff and it will never come to pass. Leaving on February 28.
Tango & Cash (1989)
Apparently, Tango & Cash was a deeply troubled production, with original director Andrei Konchalovsky fired during production over creative differences with producer Jon Peters. Konchalovsky wanted to make a more serious buddy cop movie, while Peters preferred a broader comic tone. Clearly Peters won out, because Tango & Cash is completely absurd. The absurdity is compounded by the fact that stars Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell play their roles (mismatched cops who get framed for murder by a gangster) completely deadpan, making the whole thing even funnier. Leaving on February 28.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
If Dick Tracy isn’t a horrifying enough children’s film for you, there’s always the gold standard of terrifying kiddie fare: Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, featuring the incomparable Gene Wilder as the title character. (No, not the factory; the other title character.) Wilder’s Wonka is an eccentric chocolatier who takes a group of children on a tour of his facility in order to bump them off one by one like the world’s best-dressed and most cheerful serial killer. With swirling colors, inventive setpieces, and mouthwatering production design, Willy Wonka is as delicious and surprising as a candy bar laced with LSD. Leaving on February 28.
Gallery — The Dumbest Sequel Subtitles in History:
25. ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’
Because people go to ‘Star Trek’ movies for darkness. Nothing stars hopeful optimism for the future quite like darkness!
24. ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning’
21. ‘Dreamer: Inspired By a True Story’
20. ‘Piranha 3DD’
So dumb it’s brilliant, the sequel to ‘Piranha 3D’ went with this pun that emphasizes the franchise’s intellectual interest in the female form.
18. ‘Bloodrayne: The Third Reich’
15. ‘Wild Things: Foursome’
13. ‘Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch’
The impossibly long-running ‘Air Bud’ series is the king of sports-and-animal-related puns. At a certain point, it seemed like they started developing the movies based on the pun titles they could make, like this one for Bud’s baseball adventure.