THE REVEREND’S REVIEW
FT’s resident man of the cloth REVEREND PETER LAWS dons his dog collar and faces the flicks that Church forgot! (www.theflicksthatchurchforgot.com)
It’s about a blind man defending a retirement home from a werewolf
Last month I took a gander at the horror streaming service Shudder and was suitably impressed, but how do the more mainstream platforms fare, scary-movie wise?
First up there’s Netflix, which at first glance seems a bit flaky. Fire up their app and you’ll see a slew of forgettable recent horrors like
Blair Witch or the clumsily
titled Ouija Experiment 2: The Ouija Resurrection. The trick is to skip Netflix’s whacky film groupings (‘Horror With a Strong Female Lead’, ‘Exciting Films’ etc), and go straight to the Browse Categories section. It’s often here that you’ll spot the real gems, like Australian ‘grief-personified’ horror
The Babadook or the funny yet gripping Housebound from New Zealand. The Kurt Russell western, Bone
Tomohawk – in which a small town called Bright Hope is invaded by a marauding tribe of trogladytes – is another must-watch. What sounds like a trashy B-Movie turns out to be one of the classiest and most traumatising horror films I’ve seen in a while, with a beautiful script. Another quirky tip is Late Phases (aka Night of the Wolf) about a blind man defending a retirement complex from a werewolf.
Drill further down and you’ll get some lovely retro treats too, like The Skull, The Keep, Return of the Living Dead, From Beyond and even… drum roll please… Troll 2! And you absolutely must watch Let’s Scare Jessica To Death: a thoroughly haunting 1970s tale about a woman going mad… or is she? The fact that this movie is even on here makes you think there are some decent, upstanding people at Netflix HQ. Even the original Canadian slasher My Bloody Valentine turns up, as does the more obscure Grabbers, a giddy monster movie where an Irish island’s only defence against tentacled aliens is to get drunk. Oh, and try
Creep too, which is a pretty unsettling found footage movie, and the hypnotic
Phase IV (the Saul Bass ant movie with a killer soundtrack and amazing close-up photography).
Amazon Prime Video (available to all prime members) looks a lot cheaper and nastier than either Shudder or Netflix. Apart from a few high-profile titles, most of their horror selection is straight-to-video stuff… but herein lies Amazon’s hidden strength. There’s some wonderfully obscure shlock in their catalogue, from Jaws- onland rip-off Grizzly, to Shatner epic Kingdom of the Spiders, to the once banned bigfoot horror Night of the Demon (in which Sasquatch rips off a biker’s penis). You’ll even find vintage Christian End-Times horrors too, like Image of the
Beast. Prime also has almost every season of The Walking
Dead, if you like your horror a bit more mainstream. Alternatively, if you crave some horror ambience for your next wedding or Bar Mitzvah, why not tune in to the bizarre, three-hour atmospheric horror videos on offer, like Skull Candles or Pumpkins in Trees.
When it comes to horror streaming, I still think the selection on all platforms should be way, way bigger: Netflix only has Friday the
13th Part 6, for example, when they should clearly make the effort to have them all (including the 80s TV series). Yet, for now, the streaming model is at least offering horror fans new ways to easily dive into some varied content. Let’s just hope they keep some horror geeks on those content selection panels.