So it’s that time of the year again, and once I’ve finished scaring the bejesus out of the local kids (I’m on a strict warning to tone things down, after ‘the-night-no-one-came because ‘what the hell was that you put in your window?-incident-of-2016….’) and doling out enough sweets to push Cadbury’s shares up by another 2%, I’ll be settling down for a good horror flick – with the fire roaring, and popcorn to hand.
But what to choose? Well, it depends what sort of ‘horror’ you want really, doesn’t it?
Below I’ve selected five movies currently available on Netflix UK and Amazon Prime UK (availability may differ in other countries.)
Happy Halloween viewing…
The Monster Movie:
The Thing – John Carpenter 1982. Amazon
Kurt Russell in John Carpenter’s classic 1982 flick about a research team working in a remote station in Antarctica who discover they have a shape-shifting creature in their midst. One of the last great practical visual effect movie. (See the remake/ reboot/ prequel/ disaster from 2011 for proof that CGI never quite manages the job of a couple of tons of latex)
The Beast Within – Phillipe Mora 1982. Netflix
Coming out the same year as The Thing and not even the tiniest patch on it. Bad taste, quite a bit of bad acting, and some shockingly bad story choices – but if you want a laugh at some typical ’80’s shlock, this here’s your monster movie…
The Family Halloween Horror:
The Witches – Nicholas Roeg 1990 Amazon
Based on Roald Dahl’s book of the same name, a good piece of family fun, with some gruesome transformation/ effects scene that just stay on the right side of beds staying dry, as a young boy tries to stop a witches’ convention headed up by an OTT Angelica Huston. If him turning into a mouse isn’t quite American Werewolf in London tranformation then that’s probably a good thing for the little ‘uns.
Monster House – Gil Kenan 2006. Netflix
Scripted in part by Dan Harmon there are some Community esque reflexive moments in this animated story of three teenagers who find out that the house next door is a living, breathing, and not very pleasant monster. Good voice work from the likes of Steve Buscemi, Catherine O’ Hara, Jason Lee and more.
The Non-English One:
Train to Bussan – Sang-ho Yoen 2016 Amazon
Definitely one of the more creative zombie movies in a genre that’s really past it’s present sell-by-date. This time it’s zombies on a train, as virus stricken monsters disrupt passengers on their way from Seoul to Busan with something more worrying than leaves on the track. Sequel currently underway…
Errementari – Paul Urkijo Alijo 2017 Netflix
Netflix are pushing this Portuguese re-telling of an ancient fable pretty hard, and looking at the choices of non-English horror on there, it’s not surprising to see why. ‘The Blacksmith and the Devil’ sees a loner blacksmith who has captured a demon forced to try and recapture it when it is accidentally let loose.
If you are of a less of a gore fan and/ or consider a classic to be something potentially older than ten years old (Netflix in particular have a very, very limited view of what constitutes a ‘classic’) then pickings are a bit slim…
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane – Robert Adlrich 1962 Amazon
Bette Davis as a paraplegic former child star Baby Jane Hudson, and Joan Crawford as her more – talented sister and now carer living together in a crumbling mansion, taking sibling rivalry to new levels, and legendarily, carrying the hatred off the screen. Interesting to watch in conjunction with the tv series Feud starring Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon…
The Tenant – Roman Polanski 1976 Netflix
I seriously struggled to find ANYTHING in Netflix. Is 1976 classic yet? I know…a classic isn’t just defined by age, but seriously…when you get about thirty finds for Adam Sandler and none for Paul Newman, there is something seriously wrong…anyway, that’s another rant altogether.
The Tenant – you get another non-English flick and a ‘classic’ rolled into one. I think the least of the loose ‘apartment’ trilogy, behind Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby, but does have some (and one in particular) scary moments…and if it’s Bruce Campbell’s favourite scary movie of all time, then that’s good enough for me.
The Modern one
And if it’s tough to find a ‘classic’ it ain’t much easier finding a good ‘new’ horror on eithe of the streaming services…
If I had to pick, I’d say:
Sinister – Scott Derickson 2012 Amazon
it’s C Robert Cargill writing about a faded true-crime writer who comes across some snuff movies and starts to invesitage where perhaps he shouldn’t…
I like the writer, I like Ethan Hawke, and of the one-word horror flicks which seem to be in proliferation in recent years, it’s one of the better ones.
Annihilation – Alex Garland 2018 Netflix
Whether it’s horror, or sci-fi, or something in between (and that’s not a bad thing…)
At least Annihilation had something to say – as you’d expect from Alex Garland. What that something it was saying was, I’m not going to pretend I fully understand: I do keep meaning to look up on line what smarter people than me have said about the ending, but along the way, there’s some cool ideas, some good fright scenes (and is that a homage to The Thing, in the trussed-up suspense scene), and it’s certainly more interesting than most of the dross being offered up from recent years in either of the services…
So there you go – a few choices. Me? I’m going to forego either services tonight, and go with one of my ‘classics’ (and if they don’t put an era on it, neither will I dammit.)
My own choices from each of the categories above?
The Monster Movie: American Werewolf in London
The Family Movie: Paranorman
The Non-English One: The Orphanage
The Classic: I could break out any of my Universal Monsters blu ray for this one…
The Modern: Trick r Treat – the most Halloweeny of Halloween movies since…well, you know – Halloween.