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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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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Zana (2019)

Streaming on Amazon Prime (and Kanopy) | imdb | trailer

Zana is an excellent, dark drama from Kosovo. The film reminded me a bit of Tarkovsky’s work, but the pace is a little faster, and it’s only 97 minutes long. The cinematography is fantastic, and all the actors pull off top-notch performances. One word of warning, this movie is very sad. It maintains that tone from start to finish, minus a few moments. If you’re not in the mood for a downer, then maybe pick something perky from the Netflix Top 10 (you wimp).

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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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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Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

This was one of the few good movies that was regularly shown on broadcast TV in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. I only had six channels to choose from until I was 18. That means that I have seen Three Days… many times. I am not sick of it yet. The only real flaw is that there’s a crazy violent scene towards the beginning, followed by a mostly slow paced thriller style for the remainder. This movie has brains though. I’ve always been impressed by the little details that our hero Turner (Robert Redford) picks up on, and survives because of. All the other main actors are great in this too. You’ll see many familiar faces. If you’re in the mood for a well-made thriller, this is a very good choice.

Blu-ray available from Paramount.

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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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Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

I didn’t expect much when I first saw this film. I ended up very pleasantly surprised. It’s an excellent thriller that looks damn-near perfect. Nocturnal Animals is more centered in drama than violence, but it’s still very dark in all the best ways. Some critics even called it “cynical.” No wonder I liked it so much.

Available on Blu-ray from Universal.

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Possessor (2020)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

A trained assassin can take over any person, and use their body to do the killing. This beautifully lensed film starts with a bang and does not let up. Lead actress Andrea Riseborough is spot on, and Christopher Abbott (from the very good Catch 22 mini-series) is a perfect choice too. This film features innovative looking dark psychedelic interludes, which up the game on SpectreVision (who produced Mandy also starring Riseborough). Possessor also features pretty graphic sex, and very graphic violence with some excellent gore FX. There’s even a pseudo J&B bottle nod to Italian horror films of yesteryear. Jim Williams (Kill List, Sightseers) provided a top-notch dark ambient electronic score that sounded killer in headphones. Yes, yes… this was written and directed by David Cronenberg’s son, so there are nods to Videodrome and Existenz (which also starred Jennifer Jason Leigh), but they are handled in a really smart and next-level way. You will have no idea where the movie will end up, and it’s wonderful. Pitch black but wonderful.

Available on Blu-ray from Well-Go USA.

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The Occupant (2020)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer (English – WATCH THE MOVIE IN SPANISH W/ SUBS)

Netflix delivers another entertaining Spanish thriller. The whole thing is improbable to the extreme, so forget about suspending your disbelief. It doesn’t matter because The Occupant looks great, the performances are spot on, and it has some wonderfully twisted moments. A word of warning though, some people HATED this movie. I’d say watch without expectations. Let the movie do it’s thing. If you generally appreciate the films I recommend on Anomalous Cinema, there’s a good chance you’ll like this as much as I did. Not feeling a little adventurous? Pick something else.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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Nightcrawler (2014)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

Jake Gyllenhaal makes very strange career choices, and I absolutely respect that. In this one he plays a creep like you wouldn’t believe. Nightcrawler is a none-more-black satire that starts slow, but builds into insanity. 100% solid Anomalous Cinema.

Blu-ray available from Universal.

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