Beyond the glamour and glitter... The dark and gritty side of L.A.

by Lance_Burton | created - 25 Jun 2013 | updated - 14 Nov 2016 | Public

Take a look at Los Angeles, that's right! a lot of glamour and glitter is to be seen. It's the home of the rich and famous! It has the Hollywood sign! It has stardom!

However... if one would look closer, there is a much more darker side of L.A. that goes beyond the all the make believe that we're so obsessed with. A side of L.A. so dark it's almost unthinkable to outsiders and deniers. Only a few directors dared to descend into that darkness to film whatever there was to be found. Their movies can be seen as the complete stories of events that would have otherwise ended up as easily overlooked small newspaper articles, except for the stories that revolve around mass destruction, good luck covering that up :P

Reality is that for most people in L.A. each day is a struggle to survive. While some are trying to get ahead, others prefer gang-life and engage in dangerous activities, some are illegally employed to do the dirty jobs. Some others just want to get totally wasted to forget about all their problems.

The movies in this list will take you on a journey to a not so pretty L.A. and it will certainly challenge your point of view. Welcome to: THE DARK SIDE OF L.A.!

BE WARNED! Some of these movies are almost a reflexion of reality...

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1. L.A., I Hate You (2011)

Not Rated | 93 min | Crime, Drama, Horror

Inspired by true events, L.A., I HATE YOU intertwines three tales of sex, violence, redemption, murder and unthinkable twists all taking place in the City of Angels; Los Angeles. When a ... See full summary »

Director: Yvan Gauthier | Stars: Warren Ostergard, Paul Conway, Rebecca Da Costa, Paul Sloan

Votes: 196

2. Bang (1995)

98 min | Crime, Drama

A young woman in L.A. is having a bad day: she's evicted, an audition ends with a producer furious she won't trade sex for the part, and a policeman nabs her for something she didn't do, ... See full summary »

Director: Ash Baron-Cohen | Stars: Darling Narita, Peter Greene, Michael Newland, Erik Schrody

Votes: 468

3. Los bastardos (2008)

Not Rated | 90 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A 24 hour period in the lives of Fausto and Jesus, two undocumented Mexican day-laborers in L.A. Each day another task, each day the same pressure to find money. They go about their daily ... See full summary »

Director: Amat Escalante | Stars: Jesus Moises Rodriguez, Rubén Sosa, Nina Zavarin, Kenny Johnston

Votes: 1,239

4. Falling Down (1993)

R | 113 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

56 Metascore

An unemployed defense worker frustrated with the various flaws he sees in society begins to psychotically and violently lash out against them.

Director: Joel Schumacher | Stars: Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Barbara Hershey, Rachel Ticotin

Votes: 159,402 | Gross: $40.90M

5. Valley of Angels (2008)

Crime, Drama

West Los Angeles - home of the young, rich and hip. It is also home to twenty-five year old Zachary "Zeus" Andrews. Transplanted from Chicago as a kid, Zeus never fit into the hip LA ... See full summary »

Director: Jon Rosten | Stars: George Katt, Danny Trejo, Caroline Macey, Heather Trzyna

Votes: 2,293

6. Shadow Hours (2000)

R | 95 min | Drama, Thriller

26 Metascore

Michael is a recovering alcoholic/drug user. Back on the wagon, he's now responsible for a young, beautiful, and pregnant wife. He's working the graveyard shift at a gas station to support ... See full summary »

Director: Isaac H. Eaton | Stars: Balthazar Getty, Peter Weller, Rebecca Gayheart, Peter Greene

Votes: 795 | Gross: $0.04M

7. The Streets of L.A. (1979 TV Movie)

94 min | Drama

The true story of an Anglo woman's venture into the Mexican-American barrio to seek restitution from vandals who slashed her tires.

Director: Jerrold Freedman | Stars: Joanne Woodward, Robert Webber, Michael C. Gwynne, Audrey Christie

Votes: 22

8. South Central (1992)

R | 98 min | Crime, Drama

A former gangster fresh out of prison wants to change his life for the better and must save his 10 year old son whose already chosen a gang life.

Director: Stephen Milburn Anderson | Stars: Glenn Plummer, Byron Minns, Lexie Bigham, Vincent Craig Dupree

Votes: 4,588 | Gross: $1.37M

9. Angels of the City (1989 Video)

R | 89 min | Action, Crime

College girls dressed as hookers for a sorority initiation ceremony are kidnapped by pimps.

Director: Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs | Stars: Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs, Kelly Galindo, Danny Acevedo, Jammie Adams

Votes: 92

10. Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

R | 91 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

89 Metascore

An unlikely partnership between a Highway Patrol Officer, two criminals and a station secretary is formed to defend a defunct Los Angeles precinct office against a siege by a bloodthirsty street gang.

Director: John Carpenter | Stars: Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, Laurie Zimmer, Martin West

Votes: 40,471

Even the L.A.P.D. encounters nasty situations within the dark side!

11. Cobra (1986)

R | 87 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

25 Metascore

A tough-on-crime street cop must protect the only surviving witness to a strange murderous cult with far-reaching plans.

Director: George P. Cosmatos | Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen, Reni Santoni, Andrew Robinson

Votes: 63,170 | Gross: $49.04M

12. Cop (1988)

R | 110 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

An obsessive, insubordinate homicide cop is convinced a serial killer is loose in the Hollywood area and disobeys orders in order to catch him.

Director: James B. Harris | Stars: James Woods, Lesley Ann Warren, Charles Durning, Charles Haid

Votes: 4,060 | Gross: $1.88M

13. Dark Blue (2002)

R | 118 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

57 Metascore

A robbery homicide investigation triggers a series of events that will cause a corrupt LAPD officer to question his tactics.

Director: Ron Shelton | Stars: Kurt Russell, Ving Rhames, Scott Speedman, Michael Michele

Votes: 19,635 | Gross: $9.06M

14. Impulse (1990)

R | 109 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

Lottie Mason is a police vice cop who has just the right looks to be a decoy for the whore-mungers on the streets of Los Angeles. She seems to always be where the action is whether it be ... See full summary »

Director: Sondra Locke | Stars: Theresa Russell, Jeff Fahey, George Dzundza, Alan Rosenberg

Votes: 1,089 | Gross: $2.54M

15. L.A. Vice (1989)

R | 80 min | Action, Crime

Vice detective Jon Chance (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs) is in search of a millionaire's daughter and her boyfriend...kidnapped for an unreasonable ransom. With his trustworthy captain (William ... See full summary »

Director: Joseph Merhi | Stars: Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs, William Smith, Jean Levine, Jastereo Coviare

Votes: 83

16. L.A. Heat (1989)

Not Rated | 85 min | Action

L.A. vice detective dreams of becoming a cowboy hero.

Director: Joseph Merhi | Stars: Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs, Jim Brown, Kevin Benton, Myles Thoroughgood

Votes: 122

17. Intent to Kill (1992 Video)

NC-17 | 99 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller

A young policewoman relentlessly tries to bring down a ruthless drug kingpin whom plots his own agenda for his drug distribution empire.

Director: Charles T. Kanganis | Stars: Traci Lords, Angelo Tiffe, Scott Patterson, Luis A. Pérez

Votes: 273

18. L.A. Crackdown (1989)

84 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A policewoman tries to help two teenage crack addicts. When she doesn't succeed, and the girls die, she goes after the crack dealers.

Director: Joseph Merhi | Stars: Pamela Dixon, Tricia Parks, Kita Harrison, Jeffrey Olsen

Votes: 51

19. L.A. Crackdown II (1988)

Not Rated | 83 min | Action

A member of a gang of bank robbers is also cutting the throats of girls he has picked up in a club, so two female cops go on his trail.

Director: Joseph Merhi | Stars: Pamela Dixon, Anthony Gates, Joe Verroca, Cynthia Miguel

Votes: 27

20. Colors (1988)

R | 120 min | Action, Crime, Drama

66 Metascore

An experienced cop and his rookie partner patrol the streets of East Los Angeles while trying to keep the gang violence under control.

Director: Dennis Hopper | Stars: Sean Penn, Robert Duvall, Maria Conchita Alonso, Randy Brooks

Votes: 22,846 | Gross: $46.62M

21. End of Watch (2012)

R | 109 min | Action, Crime, Drama

68 Metascore

Shot documentary-style, this film follows the daily grind of two young police officers in LA who are partners and friends, and what happens when they meet criminal forces greater than themselves.

Director: David Ayer | Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Anna Kendrick, America Ferrera

Votes: 215,806 | Gross: $41.00M

22. 10 to Midnight (1983)

R | 101 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

12 Metascore

An LAPD detective and his rookie partner are on the trail of a psychopathic young man who is murdering young women.

Director: J. Lee Thompson | Stars: Charles Bronson, Lisa Eilbacher, Andrew Stevens, Gene Davis

Votes: 6,049 | Gross: $7.10M

23. Relentless (1989)

R | 92 min | Crime, Thriller

Two Los Angeles police detectives, cynical veteran Malloy and cocky rookie Dietz, hunt for a serial killer, an ex-cop named Taylor, whom randomly chooses his victims from a phone directory.

Director: William Lustig | Stars: Judd Nelson, Robert Loggia, Leo Rossi, Meg Foster

Votes: 1,262 | Gross: $6.99M

24. Dead On: Relentless II (1992 Video)

R | 93 min | Action, Thriller

Detective Sam Dietz is paired with a shady FBI agent to track down another serial killer terrorizing Los Angeles.

Director: Michael Schroeder | Stars: Ray Sharkey, Leo Rossi, Meg Foster, Marc Poppel

Votes: 304

25. Relentless 3 (1993 Video)

R | 84 min | Action, Thriller

Sam Dietz, the relentless police detective, returns to Los Angeles from a self-imposed exile to help the police solve another series of brutal killings committed by another crafty serial killer whom targets Dietz's latest love interest.

Director: James Lemmo | Stars: Leo Rossi, William Forsythe, Robert Costanzo, Edward Wiley

Votes: 294

26. Relentless IV: Ashes to Ashes (1994 Video)

R | 95 min | Thriller

Sam Dietz is back and must find and stop another serial killer before he kills again. Detective work for Dietz is tough having to juggle two gorgeous women - one his partner, and the other his shrink, who holds the key to the case.

Director: Oley Sassone | Stars: Leo Rossi, Famke Janssen, Colleen Coffey, John Scott Clough

Votes: 238

27. Ricochet (1991)

R | 102 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A District Attorney is terrorized by the criminal he put away years ago when he was a cop.

Director: Russell Mulcahy | Stars: Denzel Washington, John Lithgow, Ice-T, Kevin Pollak

Votes: 15,113 | Gross: $21.76M

28. Nails (1992 TV Movie)

R | 96 min | Action, Crime, Drama

Cop breaks all the rules to go after a gang of drug dealers.

Director: John Flynn | Stars: Dennis Hopper, Anne Archer, Tomas Milian, Keith David

Votes: 349

29. Die Hard (1988)

R | 132 min | Action, Thriller

72 Metascore

An NYPD officer tries to save his wife and several others taken hostage by German terrorists during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

Director: John McTiernan | Stars: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson

Votes: 737,071 | Gross: $83.01M

30. L.A. Takedown (1989 TV Movie)

97 min | Action, Crime, Drama

Tough Los Angeles cop Vincent Hanna takes on a gang of professional bank robbers led by the precise, enigmatic Patrick McLaren.

Director: Michael Mann | Stars: Scott Plank, Alex McArthur, Michael Rooker, Ely Pouget

Votes: 1,782

31. Deadly Target (1994)

R | 100 min | Action, Crime, Drama

Hong Kong police detective Charles Prince (Gary Daniels) arrives in Los Angeles to extradite a notorious Chinese gangster back to Hong Kong for trial. But soon, his suspect escapes. With ... See full summary »

Director: Charla Driver | Stars: Gary Daniels, Ken McLeod, Byron Mann, Susan Byun

Votes: 198

32. L.A. County 187 (2003 TV Movie)

PG-13 | 82 min | Drama

It's another night in L.A. County 187 for policeman Walter Drazin and his team, but when they find the corpses of an Asian family in a burned down club, arson and murder come to the fore. ... See full summary »

Director: David Anspaugh | Stars: Miguel Ferrer, Richard Bradford, Kevin Dunn, Sy Richardson

Votes: 131

33. Cold Steel (1987)

R | 91 min | Action, Thriller

On Christmas Eve Johnny Modine's father is murdered by a psycho cut-throat. The cop swears bloody revenge, though he's taken off the case. He doesn't suspect yet that he's also target in a ... See full summary »

Director: Dorothy Ann Puzo | Stars: Brad Davis, Sharon Stone, Jonathan Banks, Jay Acovone

Votes: 648 | Gross: $0.29M

34. Lethal Weapon (1987)

R | 109 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

68 Metascore

Two newly paired cops who are complete opposites must put aside their differences in order to catch a gang of drug smugglers.

Director: Richard Donner | Stars: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Mitchell Ryan

Votes: 223,889 | Gross: $65.21M

35. Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

R | 114 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

70 Metascore

Riggs and Murtaugh are on the trail of South African diplomats who are using their immunity to engage in criminal activities.

Director: Richard Donner | Stars: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Patsy Kensit

Votes: 152,441 | Gross: $147.25M

36. Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)

R | 118 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

40 Metascore

Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh pursue a former LAPD officer who uses his knowledge of police procedure and policies to steal and sell confiscated guns and ammunition to local street gangs.

Director: Richard Donner | Stars: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Rene Russo

Votes: 149,000 | Gross: $144.73M

37. Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)

R | 127 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

37 Metascore

With personal crises and age weighing in on them, LAPD officers Riggs and Murtaugh must contend with deadly Chinese triads that are trying to free their former leaders out of prison and onto American soil.

Director: Richard Donner | Stars: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Rene Russo

Votes: 146,212 | Gross: $130.44M

38. Mulholland Falls (1996)

R | 107 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

In 1950's Los Angeles, a special crime squad of the LAPD investigates the murder of a young woman.

Director: Lee Tamahori | Stars: Nick Nolte, Melanie Griffith, Jennifer Connelly, Chazz Palminteri

Votes: 15,026 | Gross: $11.50M

39. L.A. Confidential (1997)

R | 138 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

90 Metascore

As corruption grows in 1950s Los Angeles, three policemen -- one strait-laced, one brutal, and one sleazy -- investigate a series of murders with their own brand of justice.

Director: Curtis Hanson | Stars: Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger

Votes: 503,999 | Gross: $64.62M

40. L.A. Heat (1996–1999)

TV-14 | 50 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

The action-packed cases of 2 cops, one white one black, in LA. A wisecracking combination, with plenty of action, chases and explosions thrown in for good measure.

Stars: Wolf Larson, Steven Williams, Renee Tenison, Kenneth Tigar

Votes: 346

41. NCIS: Los Angeles (2009– )

TV-14 | 43 min | Action, Crime, Drama

The Naval Criminal Investigation Service's Office of Special Projects takes on the undercover work and the hard to crack cases in LA. Key agents are G. Callen and Sam Hanna, streets kids risen through the ranks.

Stars: Chris O'Donnell, Daniela Ruah, Barrett Foa, Linda Hunt

Votes: 45,904

42. The Black Dahlia (2006)

R | 121 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

49 Metascore

Two policemen see their personal and professional lives fall apart in the wake of the "Black Dahlia" murder investigation.

Director: Brian De Palma | Stars: Josh Hartnett, Aaron Eckhart, Scarlett Johansson, Hilary Swank

Votes: 69,204 | Gross: $22.52M

43. To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)

R | 116 min | Action, Crime, Drama

81 Metascore

A fearless Secret Service agent will stop at nothing to bring down the counterfeiter who killed his partner.

Director: William Friedkin | Stars: William Petersen, Willem Dafoe, John Pankow, Debra Feuer

Votes: 26,898 | Gross: $17.31M

44. True Crime: Streets of LA (2003 Video Game)

M | Action, Adventure, Comedy

Loose cannon cop Nick Kang, suspended from the LAPD, becomes part of an elite police unit and defends the City of Angels from a plot involving the Chinese Triad and the Russian mob.

Stars: Russell Wong, Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken, Michelle Rodriguez

Votes: 1,217

End of the of the L.A.P.D. encounters

45. Cellular (2004)

PG-13 | 94 min | Action, Crime, Thriller