Quo Vadis, Aida? (2020)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

A local translator for the UN in Srebrenica gets caught between her people and the Serbian army. This is a fictional story based on the very real, and very brutal, Bosnian war in the 1990s. In spite of not being directly based on historical events, it is a very effective movie. The acting is top notch and the cinematography is perfect. This is obviously dark stuff, but important on many levels. It’s also one of the best serious dramas I’ve seen in recent years.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

Streaming on Hulu (and Plex) | imdb | trailer

The headline read “Hobo Stops Begging, Demands Change.” That, and the fact that all exploitation elements are cranked to 11, sums up this movie. I’ve been a Rutger Hauer fan since seeing Blade Runner is a kid. I think I’ve seen the majority of his films, and I have even read his autobiography. For many years I complained about the injustice of Hauer not getting a good lead role. Well in 2011 the stars aligned – Hobo with a Shotgun was announced. I was avidly following the pre-release promotion of the movie, and was not disappointed when I finally got to see the finished product. I think the low rating on imdb is because of the overall purposeful cheese factor, and the fact everything offensive is thrown in to the mix. Fuck ‘em if they don’t like this film. Yeah it ain’t Ingmar Bergman, but I give it a perfect score. RIP Mr. Hauer.

Available on Blu-ray from Magnet.

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Christmas Evil (1980)

Streaming on YouTube | imdb | trailer

This is my favorite Christmas horror movie. Yes, the original Black Christmas and Silent Night Deadly Night are great, but this one is just so much more twisted and fun. Christmas Evil is also built on intentional humor that works, and features an absolutely unforgettable ending. You might just spill your eggnog. 

Available on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome.

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The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962)

Streaming on YouTube | imdb | trailer

This is a solid gothic horror, starring Barbara Steele, by Ricardo Freda who later made the very good films The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire and Tragic Ceremony. If you are a fan of early Mario Bava and the Roger Corman Poe films, you will almost certainly be pleased. Warning to the casual horror fan: this is pretty tame aside from the implied necrophilia that makes this doctor so horrible. The movie relies on suspense instead of blood, and the pace is very deliberate. However if you can watch it with that in mind, you might enjoy it as much as I do. One definite incentive is that Barbara Steele gets a lot of screen time.

Available on Blu-ray from Olive.

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Under the Shadow (2016)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

You may have noticed I am not a fan of PG-13 movies. Well, this is an exception. Under the Shadow is a very creepy horror film set in ‘80s Iran during that country’s war with Iraq. Your city being bombed regularly is bad enough, but throw an evil spirit into the mix and you have serious trouble. Sounds like some full-blown Anomalous Cinema right? This is a unique film that I thoroughly enjoyed. I hope to see more quality dark horror movies come out of Islamic countries in the near future.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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I Saw the Devil (2010)

Streaming on Hulu and Kanopy | imdb | trailer

This is a very good South Korean horror / crime thriller from the director of the excellent A Bittersweet Life. Many folks love his film The Good the Bad the Weird too. The bad guy is the original Oldboy himself Choi Min-shik. Do I really need to say more? Nah.

Available on Blu-ray from Magnolia.

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The Haunted Palace (1963)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

I somehow missed this excellent Vincent Price horror flick until recently. The title is inspired by Poe, but the story is actually a loose version H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward.” In fact, this marks the first ever Lovecraft screen adaptation. If you’re a fan of any of the Roger Corman Poe flicks, you’re going to enjoy The Haunted Palace. This is creepy, classic, atmospheric horror.

MILD SPOILER ALERT: There is a brief monster reveal that is honestly laughable (think Star Trek – The Original Series), but that little blemish does not ruin an otherwise awesome movie.

Available on Blu-ray as part of The Vincent Price Collection from Scream Factory.

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The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Yes, I’m finally getting around to an Argento movie. This is his first film, and among his best. I wouldn’t recommend Dario newbies start with this one, as it is honestly very slow, and almost bloodless. It’s definitely a giallo, but far more thriller than horror. However this movie is as creepy as can be, beautifully filmed, has a very good cast, and the Morricone score is phenomenal. Most people see Suspiria first, and are a little disappointed by Argento’s other great films. Then they go on to be downright depressed by the rest of his output (I gave up after sitting through Giallo). Sadly he has not made a decent movie since Sleepless, but he was excellent acting in Gaspar Noe’s Vortex. Besides Suspiria, my personal favorites are Tenebrae and The Cat o Nine Tails (honorable mentions for Deep Red, Inferno, and DA’s edit of Dawn of the Dead). Did you hear that? It was the sound of dozens of horror nerds yelling out What about (fill in the blank)?!?!?!

Available on Blu-ray from Arrow.

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Christine (1983)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

It’s about damned time I recommended a John Carpenter film. His best work is so high profile I figured, why bother? Well Christine is a solid, lesser discussed, movie in his filmography that I enjoy, and just happened to have rewatched recently. You get that awesome JC golden-era cinematography, a very good synth score, plus a good cast, and top notch special effects that still look impressive nearly 40 years on. There’s just one catch here… I never read the original Stephen King book. I’ve read The Shining, The Stand, and the whole damn Dark Tower series, but not this one. So, if you’re a big fan of the book, maybe do some research first, or skip it. If you’ve never read the book, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this as much as I did. Oh, and some guy is doing a remake. Unless it’s more faithful to the book, a “reimagining” strikes me as a waste of time. You Hollywood people know that there’s a billion original horror movie scripts floating around right? Right?

Blu-ray is available from Sony Pictures.

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It Follows (2014)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

Have you seen the one about the sexually transmitted poltergeist? Most horror devotees were all over It Follows when it first came out. Deservedly so, as it’s a damn good film. I only give it bad marks for the John Carpenter rip off soundtrack. The filmmakers either should have hired the man himself, or tweaked the music just enough to sound original. Really it’s a minor complaint. If you have missed this one up to now, watch it before Netflix swaps it out for some more of the garbage horror they tend to favor.

Available on Blu-ray from Radius.

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