PRIMAL STREAMING: Nurse Your St. Paddy's Day Hangover With These Streaming Flicks!
Usually after a holiday weekend I’m pretty beat, especially when that holiday is St. Patrick’s Day. Recovery time is key so if you’re like me and don’t plan on galavanting around for at least another week, here’s a variety of great movies to watch ranging from low budget zombie craziness, home invasion terror, a Synthy Neon experience, woodsy folk horror, disgusting body horror, and slow burn Italian madness, all available on Amazon Prime, Shudder, or Netflix! Grab the popcorn and red vines… it’s time to watch some movies!
Watched via Amazon Prime
“After a scientist living in a posh apartment complex slaughters a teen girl and kills himself, investigators discover that the murderer had been carrying on odd experiments, soon the residents of the suburban high-rise apartment building are being infected by a strain of parasites that turn them into mindless, sex-crazed fiends out to infect others by the slightest sexual contact.”
Cronenberg’s take on a zombie-esque breakdown of society features a disgusting parasite equal parts aphrodisiac & venereal disease that causes uncontrollable sexual desire in its host. Shivers lays down plenty groundwork for things to come from Mr. Cronenberg, namely fleshy body horror and psychosexual warped science amidst dystopia. It’s all here, pulsating beneath the stretched skin of the low budget sleaze wonder that is Shivers.
Shivers and Rabid were two Cronenberg films I saw well after the majority of his famed filmography, both within the last five years, and lemme tell you... masked killers or rampaging backwoods murderers don’t scare me per say, but a disgusting parasite feeding on sexual desire whilst lumping and pumping around the belly flesh or throat absolutely terrifies me. The more I watch Shivers the higher it climbs on my list of favorite C-berg flicks.
Nobody makes me despise the gross human body quite like David Cronenberg. I love it.
The Dead Next Door
Watched via Shudder
“An elite government squad takes action when cultists and flesh-craving zombies unite to destroy the human race.”
An 8mm Classic, this funded in secret by Sam Raimi zombie film has quite the back story, but I’ll get into that later. The Dead Next Door focuses on a team of soldiers enlisted by the government to take care of the growing zombie epidemic while the lab coats try and figure out some type of cure. In classic zombie flick fashion, the undead aren’t the only things the zombie squad have to deal with... there's a religious cult who protects and subdues the zombies by way of face masks, believing them to be a punishment handed down by God.
Shot in Akron, Ohio, and coming together over a four year period that saw director J.R. Bookwalter go from age 19 to 23, The Dead Next Door plays like a fangoria fans wet dream, even Sam Raimi chipped in some of his Evil Dead II money to help, and Bruce Campbell dubs two characters (including our lead). Very low budget but with some way above average gore, The Dead Next Door is extremely charming and hard not to admire considering it’s basically an epic home movie zombie film made by a kid. After the Romero films, this was one of the first zombie movies my friends and I watched back in the day (usually before or after long Resident Evil sessions) and it played like gangbusters... especially with the video game type feel it has.
Beyond the Black Rainbow
Watched via Shudder
“Despite being under heavy sedation, a young woman in 1983 tries to make her way out of the Arboria Institute, a secluded, quasi-futuristic commune whilst a maniac Doctor is infatuated with her for unknown reasons.”
A hypnotic journey with an astounding visual aesthetic, Beyond the Black Rainbow takes everything that feels familiar about it from other synth drenched genre offerings and goes beyond that, creating for some (I.E. myself) an entrancing, slow dread experience of immeasurable proportion. That’s just what Beyond the Black Rainbow is, an experience.
I first saw this 5 years ago and three films released during that specific time period all stood out to me, Beyond the Black Rainbow, Amer, and The Strange Color of your Bodies Tears. While I like some things about the visually beautiful, hyper-stylized later two, the derivations in them had zero emotional effect on me and the over-saturation of the gialli (my favorite genre) style took me out of both pictures, much like the 1980’s nostalgia becoming a part of the mid 2010’s zeitgeist is starting to heavily weigh on my entertainment consuming addiction.
To balance that out, Beyond the Black Rainbow is the type of homage that mutates into its own originality, not once did I roll my eyes at a moment in this film as it transcends its influences and in the process, goes all the fucking way. That’s my favorite type of derivation and something that doesn’t come along too often. Subtlety is key. You can beat me on the head with insane visuals and a dope score all day but in the end something else better move me. Panos Cosmatos’ debut feature moved me and I can’t wait for for his next feature Mandy!
Watched via Netflix
“Reuniting after the tragic death of their friend, four college pals set out to hike through the Scandinavian wilderness. A wrong turn leads them into the mysterious forests of Norse legend, where an ancient evil exists and stalks them at every turn.”
We covered this film when it was first released but I can’t stress enough about how it’s totally worth your time, if you haven’t watched it yet, pull the trigger.
As much as I admit to liking cheesy jump scares and sometimes dumb teenager based horror, David Bruckner’s The Ritual is exactly the kind of adult jam I look for: an unsettling, moody picture that’s both beautifully shot and well acted, all while drenched in a specific atmosphere that I f’n love—the deep, dark, wood.
Utilizing the incredible landscape for some truly beautiful images, Bruckner’s film (based on novel of the same name) mixes elements of things we’ve seen before, executed maturely, confidently, and most importantly—effectively, as vibes reminiscent of (but not riffing on) The Blair Witch Project and The Descent covered in a rural folk-horror blanket of The Witch and The Wicker Man, all framed with a theme of guilt. The Ritual ignores jump scare tactics as our bickering group of men become more toxic as time goes on as do their surroundings, culminating in a climax that more than satisfied my lurking Deer Monster needs quite nicely.
When a Stranger Calls Back
Watched via Amazon Prime
“A retired detective (Charles Durning) and a crisis-center counselor (Carol Kane) hunt a killer stalking a coed (Jill Schoelen).”
I would have never expected this 1993 made for Showtime sequel to 1979’s When a Stranger Calls to effectively creep me out the way it did. The opening 27 minutes of babysitter Jill Schoelen being stalked was a legitimately well made and tense orchestration of terror, a fitting follow up to the legendary 1979 intro. Carol Kane returns (and takes zero bullshit, especially from the cops who want to write off Jill Schoelen’s recent incident as a overreacting woman co-ed) and so does Charles Durning (who has the best line in the movie... “This man is a ventriloquist!”)
The crazy ventriloquist stalker utilized fucking camouflage paint to stalk and it’s very creepy, in fact there’s numerously disturbing scenes throughout, including a sit in on his ventriloquist act, and the final location reveal of the killer—all framed with a simple but effectively eerie piano motif repeating throughout. I’m glad I never watched this during the 90’s because it would have creeped me the hell out and I wouldn’t be able to look at a wall or coat rack without thinking there was a chameleon psycho ventriloquist dude secretly waiting to abduct me. Good on you Fred Walton, I never would have expected this to be as startling as it was.
Watched via Shudder (also available on Prime)
“Tourists are trapped in a cathedral cursed since the Crusades by the mayhem of German knights.”
The first of two films produced by Dario Argento and directed by the wonderful Michele Soavi, La Chiesa has always been a movie I've never fully appreciated... until last year.
La Chiesa is about an old Gothic cathedral built over a mass grave that develops strange powers, trapping a number of people inside with ghosts from a 12th Century massacre. Those ghosts are seeking to resurrect an ancient demon from the bowels of the Earth and as you’d expect, madness ensues! Slow pacing be damned, this movie is delightfully bonkers and if you ask me, how it all unfolds is part of the magic. Watching this cornucopia of madness is a sight to behold, including (but not limited to) a tower of contorted, distorted bodies covered in sludge, crazy traps everywhere, a jackhammer impalement, and a lady getting flattened by a train.
For years my only access to this was a horrible quality VHS tape, and an equally bad DVD bootleg that seriously hampered my viewing enjoyment. So many people I know loved it and I was never able to fully click until my buddy showed me his region B Blu-ray of it last year, all cleaned up with terrific audio. I fell in love! Sadly I’m not region free yet, I’ve been avoiding it because I already spend too much on blu rays each week, but Now, Scorpion Releasing have issued a pristine new region A blu-ray stateside!
The Church has now become one of my favorite Italian horror revisits and I adore Michele Soavi so much, whether it's his brilliant directing or his (usually uncredited) cameos in a plethora of genre masterpieces (and stuff like Alien 2: On Earth). From what I understand he left directing in the late 90’s after a family tragedy and he hasn’t been the same ever since. I see he’s directed a few random things here and there in the 2000’s, but I hope one day he surprises us with some insane horror movie. I hope you’re ok Michele, we miss you.
"I turned what was conceived as schlock pizza cinema into a strong essay on karma and the ambiguous inner conflicts we all face at some time in our lives." --Michele Soavi on The Church, from Alan Jones book Profondo Argento.
Yes, Michele, you certainly did.