Various shockers and high-end horrors
Ten horror films worth enduring on Netflix? Here, in order of release, is our laugh-heavy choice
The streaming service continues to have a problem with older films. So you will seek Bride of Frankenstein or Eyes Without a Face in vain. A Netflix horror festival will inevitably lean towards the sort of high camp exemplified by the divertingly ludicrous Sharknado or the squalid bottom feeding represented by The Human Centipede.
We have left those out. We have also excluded TV series such as the pastiche-drunk Stranger Things and the fabulous-darling American Horror Story (best bet: Season Two). All those are there if you fancy. Here, in order of release, is our surprisingly laugh-heavy selection.
LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH (1971) In a recent Sight and Sound poll, Kim Newman, the peerless critic, named John Hancock’s psychological shocker among his 10 favourite films in any genre. Zohra Lampert stars as a young woman afraid she may be relapsing into mental illness.
PHASE IV (1974) The answer to a popular film trivia question, this tale of ants gaining control is the only feature directed by the great title designer Saul Bass. Unsurprisingly, his sinister film is notable for its unsettling visuals.
THE TENANT (1976) Following Rosemary’s Baby and Repulsion (neither on Netflix), Roman Polanksi completed his “apartment trilogy” with a work described by Richard Scheib as “the first Kafkaesque horror film”. The director plays a man having visions in a Parisian apartment.
FROM BEYOND (1986) The perennially imaginative horror master Stuart Gordon expands H P Lovecraft’s similarly titled story into a characteristically disgusting and endlessly hilarious festival of transgression. It’s all to do with the pineal gland apparently.
KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (1988) Given the recent craze for scary clowns, we couldn’t leave out The Chiodo Brothers’ comic classic (above) about . . . Well, it’s all there in the title. Worth a click for the scary balloon animals alone. SCREAM (1996) The late Wes Craven returned from a period in the wilderness with a post-modern deconstruction of a genre he helped create. It’s flashy and gimmicky, but the meta-slasher still offers palpable shocks. Over the succeeding decade self-reference became an unavoidable trope in horror.
THE OTHERS (2001) Alejandro Amenábar directs Nicole Kidman and Fionnula Flanagan in a ghost story that owes plenty to Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw. Ms Kidman shivers with her children in a gloomy corner of Jersey. Keep eyes open for the late Eric Sykes.
PAN’S LABYRINTH (2006) We are stretching the limits of the genre here, but Guillermo del Toro’s dark fantasy – Alice in Wonderland during the Spanish Civil War – is certainly layered with the accoutrements of horror. Beware the Pale Man.
GRABBERS (2012) Terrific Irish romp concerning the invasion of a seaside town by relentless tentacled aliens. A film concerning drunk people that will play very well to drunk audiences. Kevin Lehane’s script is a gem.
THE BABADOOK (2014) Incessantly eerie Australian horror about a young woman coping badly with a child who may be haunted by a character from a pop-up storybook. Part of a recent resurgence in high-end horror that also gave us It Follows and The Witch.