Due current state of things, everyone is looking for the best stuff available streaming. Shudder, the streaming site dedicated to all things horror, is offering a free 30-day trial with promo code SHUTIN. I thought I would take this opportunity to give some recommendations. And I swear, Shudder is not paying me for this. I just love horror!
SATANIC PANIC (2019) Dir. Chelsea Stardust
To kick things off, tonight ShudderTV is showing a live stream of SATANIC PANIC, Chelsea Stardust’s absolute blast of a horror comedy from last year. The film follows a young woman on her first day working in pizza delivery who is assigned an unfortunate route of rich weirdoes ends up the target of virgin sacrifice for a cult. Popular horror novelist Grady Hendrix wrote the screenplay filled with wit and surprises. Stardust and lead actress Hayley Griffith will be hosting the live stream.
BEHIND THE MASK (2006) Dir. Scott Glosserman
What if Freddy, Jason, and Michael existed in our world? And what if following in their footsteps seemed like a viable career path? BEHIND THE MASK answers with its protagonist and aspiring slasher Leslie Vernon. Vernon is followed by a film crew of college students as he plans his perfect evening of terrorizing teens. While meta horror may seem exhausted at this point, this film gives it a fresh take with genuine scares, a killer climax, and a fantastic bit role for Robert Englund.
KNIFE + HEART (2018) Dir. Yann Gonzalez
The gay giallo film we never knew we needed. KNIFE + HEART is a tribute to the classic Italian horror genre, but set in the 1970s gay adult film industry in which the actors and crew are getting picked apart. There’s also lesbians!! And a bird??!! What more do you need?
THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN (2014) Dir. Adam Robitel
Speaking of lesbians, I always credit this as one of the few horror films that let the lesbian live. I now, five stars already. But THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN is also a haunting look into the life of a woman living with Alzheimer’s as she lets a film crew document her and her daughter taking care of her. It features one of the most disturbing images I’ve seen in a horror movie (you’ll know the one). This one used to be impossible to find, so take advantage of it being easily streamable now!
REVENGE (2017) Dir. Coralie Fargeat
Rape revenge has long been a part of the horror/exploitation genre, but is rare to be told through the female gaze. The formula is simple enough: a girl thinks on a romantic getaway, but his friends show up and everything turns to shit. REVENGE is a vibrant, stylized, empowering take on the subgenre that will have you cheering. Not sure if I’d recommend what she does with that beer can, though.
SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE 2 (1987) Dir. Deborah Brock
While the first of the trilogy is on shudder as well, this is my personal favorite. Can you name another horror movie villain that’s a rockabilly dude in fringed leather who stops mid-chase to perform a musical number? SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE 2 is a bloody musical extravaganza that is pure camp in the best way.
ONE CUT OF THE DEAD (2017) Dir. Shinichiro Ueda
This is one of those that the less you know about it going in, the better. All you need to know about ONE CUT OF THE DEAD is that a zombie outbreak actually happens while a crew is filming a zombie movie. Now go!
HORROR NOIRE (2019) Dir. Xavier Burgin
The documentary that took the horror community by storm last year, and for good reason. Horror noire is a fascinating look at the history of how black people have been portrayed and represented in horror. It was extremely eye-opening to me and I was constantly adding titles to my watchlist during my viewing.
GINGER SNAPS (2000) Dir. John Fawcett
The movie I needed in high school but unfortunately discovered much later, GINGER SNAPS uses the mythology of werewolves as a puberty allegory for people with periods. The titular Ginger is bitten by a werewolf and starts to notice new urges and cravings while her sister sets out to find a way to help. There may be a personal bias to recommending this because I’m in love with Katharine Isabelle, but it’s truly a great flick and a refreshing female perspective to the werewolf canon.
MAYHEM (2017) Dir. Joe Lynch
I don’t know why we as a society aren’t giving Steven Yeun more lead roles. While we were all fans of his turn as Glenn on THE WALKING DEAD, he more than proves his worth here in MAYHEM. Yeun plays an office worker stuck in a quarantined building affected by a virus that rids everyone of any impulse control. Think that episode of STAR TREK where Sulu has a sword and Spock starts crying. Theses urges, however, can easily become violent as he and the always-fantastic Samara Weaving to survive the lockdown.
THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1932) Dir. James Whale
Most people will be much more familiar with James Whale’s other contributions to the horror canon like FRANKENSTEIN and THE INVISIBLE MAN. THE OLD DARK HOUSE is another noteworthy entry by the director. The now-familiar setting of a couple’s car breaking down and seeking shelter from a creepy mansion with even creepier people inside found its origins here. There’s even a full on drag performance in this, as actress Elspeth Dudgeon plays old man Sir Roderick Femm. Hooray for vintage camp in queer horror!
WAKE IN FRIGHT (1971) Dir. Ted Kotcheff(
Australian readers, I assume this is just how it always is? WAKE IN FRIGHT is a study of toxic masculinity in the outback as a school teacher finds himself stranded in a small town waiting to travel to Sydney. It features a very different Donald Pleasence than we’re used to, a mere 8 years before the first HALLOWEEN. I should give a fair warning of the infamous kangaroo hunting scene, which used real footage for a greater purpose of shining a light on the pointless killings occurring during the time.
MAGIC (1978) Dir. Richard Attenborough
We’re all so used to Anthony Hopkins as a concept. Ah yes, isn’t he great, been around for ages, farva beans, etc. But in MAGIC, Sir Anthony is ACTING. He gives two performances in one as a ventriloquist and his dummy, slowly blurring the lines of his own sanity and reality. Be sure to tell people this is actually psychological horror, because when I told my friends about it, they thought it was a comedy.
TRAIN TO BUSAN (2016) Dir. Yeon Sang-ho
This is truly one of those “believe the hype” ones. I’d known about this for ages but finally got around to it earlier this year and…holy cannoli. TRAIN TO BUSAN somehow cracked the code of breathing fresh air into the exhausted zombie genre with non-stop thrills and characters you grow to love. These include a beefy man protecting his pregnant wife, an estranged dad traveling with his young daughter who gives a fantastic little performance, and the dude from Parasite in the baseball uniform!
THE RANGER (2018) Dir. Jenn Wexler
Last year was a big year for female-directed horror, particularly on streaming sites. Many, including THE RANGER, fell under the radar. This is a bummer, because the movie is a fun, energetic punk rock horror flick about youths on the run hiding in a cabin and the park ranger with a deadly secret. Things get brutal, including a bear trap scene that haunts me to this day.
THE LOVE WITCH (2016) Dir. Anna Biller
Samantha Robinson if you are reading this I’m free on Thursday night and would like for you to use a love spell on me. Please respond to this and then use a love spell on me on Thursday night when I’m free.
RE-ANIMATOR (1985) Dir. Stuart Gordon
I am allowing myself one Classic on this rec list because I didn’t want to exhaust you all too much. Shudder does have many classics such as HALLOWEEN, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, BLACK CHRISTMAS and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. But something always brings me back to the macabre camp of medical student Herbert West and his quest to bring back life from the dead. He drags roommate (and if you ask me, homoerotic target of affection) Dan along for the ride. It’s a wild, blood, and hilarious 85 minutes from start to finish. And when you’re done, find what you can of the stage musical on youtube!