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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Lifeforce (1985)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

An astronaut inadvertently brings back… Space Vampires. This is a personal favorite that nearly qualifies as a guilty pleasure. Lifeforce is very over-the-top, and even cheesy at times, but I think you’ll be too entertained to be bothered. This is one seriously fast-paced blast of an action, sci-fi, horror mashup. Directed by Tobe Hooper, and somehow financed by the Cannon Group with a generous budget, plus the cinematography and makeup effects still look great. They even made a 70mm version of the film, which I’ve seen, and the sound design / score were a delight for my ears. This film also features a surprisingly perfect cast, with a standout memorable moment featuring Patrick Stewart. The last reel of the film is just plain bonkers too. Get ready for a good time if you’ve never had the pleasure.

Available on Blu-ray from Shout Factory.

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The Girl Next Door (2007)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

It would probably be best for you to NOT watch this movie. This is possibly the most extreme horror / exploitation flick currently on Netflix. Are you still reading? Ok, well… this is a fact-based film about a young girl that was tortured and abused back in 1965. I saw this when it came out, and it made quite an impression. Back then I was a much more negative horror maniac, and it cut right through my “I’ve seen it all” bullshit. I didn’t feel titillated. I felt sympathy and dread. This was originally a novel by Jack Ketchum, who was likely the smartest author working in extreme horror. Maybe only Clive Barker’s early work was a match. If the above has not scared you off, and you’re ready to be brutalized for “entertainment”, check out The Girl Next Door. Also look into Ketchum’s books. The ones I read were a big step above most horror fiction.

Available on Blu-ray from Anchor Bay.

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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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The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism (1967)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

The mighty Christopher Lee plays a murderous Count, who is back from the dead, and out for revenge. Sounds similar to the plot for Mario Bava’s Black Sunday right? That’s ok, because part of why I enjoyed this movie so much is that it reminded me of Bava’s work, and early Hammer Horror. It also is an extremely loose adaptation of “The Pit and the Pendulum,” so we get additional reminders of Roger Corman’s Poe horrors. All that may sound like this isn’t worth your time. Not true. The film has been lovingly restored and looks absolutely beautiful. The saturated color and deep shadows sold it for me. Torture Chamber… is an old fashioned horror film, and is not particularly smart, but I highly recommended classic horror fans see it. If you enjoyed the young and handsome Christopher Lee acting like a creep, make sure to check out Bava’s The Whip and the Body. This director made an earlier creepy horror movie called The Strangler of Blackmoore Castle, which is also worth watching.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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Dead and Buried (1981)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

This is an excellent ’80s horror film that I have watched many times over the years. I’m not going to mention the plot, as it slowly reveals itself (in fact, maybe skip watching the trailer). In spite of the very intense opening scene, it does have a bit of a slow pace overall, but don’t let that deter you. Dead and Buried is a film made with care. It features moody cinematography, awesome performances, well crafted music, and a few of my favorite gore FX scenes. The man behind most of those was the legendary Stan Winston. The only blemish on this film is that they shot one murder set-piece when Winston wasn’t available, and it sticks out like a sore thumb. That’s ok, it is one wart on an otherwise creepy good time. I’m very jealous of you people seeing this for the first time.

Available on 4K / Blu-ray from Blue Underground.

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In the Earth (2021)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer 

This is a divisive film. From what I can gather, fans may have found this a little too experimental, and critics a little too much like Ben Wheatley’s previous A Field in England. That said, if you want a straight-forward, fast paced horror film, or a totally new Wheatley masterpiece, skip this one. I loved this movie. I will admit that I am a bit biased to what’s on offer here. You already know I’m a fan of the director, as I’ve recommended almost every film he ever made. More than that, I am a sucker for dark psychedelic visuals, and a fan of experimental music (which is prominent in the second half of the film). Ben Wheatley does it again, but not for everyone.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Not Quite Hollywood (2008)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

What we have here is a flat-out blast of a documentary about Australian exploitation cinema. It works as a primer on all the excellent weird films that came from the continent, and as an incredibly entertaining experience on it’s own. I was inspired to track down a ton of movies after my first viewing. This is essential Anomalous viewing.

Available on Import Blu-Ray.

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Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place (2004)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | opening credits 

I have never posted about a series before, but this one is just too good to not share. Dark Place might be my all-time favorite comedy series. It’s essentially an ‘80s horror parody co-starring The IT Crowd’s Matt Berry and Richard Ayoade. Watch first few minutes. If you enjoy the opening theme song / credits montage, you’ll love this one-season series.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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Blood Sabbath (1972)

Streaming on YouTube (Sorry! It was on Amazon Prime last week.) | imdb | trailer (VHS Promo – YouTube sign-in required)

A young man stumbles upon a coven (Mark Borchardt pronunciation required) of witches and mayhem ensues. By all normal standards, this is an awful movie. By Anomalous Cinema standards, this is a delightful movie. I will refer you to the superior Stephen Thrower review in his book Nightmare USA. If you don’t have access to that book, all you may care about is that Dyanne Thorne from the notorious Ilsa film series co-stars, and is awesomely cheesy. Here are couple of interesting points Mr. Thrower didn’t mention: 1) The lead “young man” is played by Anthony Geary, better known among some of you older folks as Luke Spencer on the ABC daytime drama General Hospital. 2) The Priest is played by Steve Gravers, whose voice many cult movie folks will recognize immediately as Blackwolf from Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards. Additionally, I found the music to be effectively creepy for such a low-budget affair. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen a “so bad it’s good” movie, I believe you need to experience Blood Sabbath.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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