If you’re looking for something scary at the multiplexes, you can check out The Meg (Eric’s review) which is not all that scary but it is kind of fun, or Slender Man (Eric’s review) which is neither scary nor fun. But if you’re willing to go digging through the VOD channels you can always find a half-decent scary movie, right?
Along Came the Devil — Have you seen William Friedkin’s 1973 classic The Exorcist? I bet you have. You know who else definitely has? Everyone involved with Along Came the Devil, from the filmmakers to the characters onscreen. They even talk about it! So literally nobody is all that surprised when a young woman becomes helplessly possessed by a demon of some sort. There’s very little here horror fans haven’t seen before, but those who make it through the dry and talky bits will be treated to a few fairly effective jolts. And yes, it’s safe to say that The Exorcist remains one of the most influential horror films ever made. It’s been 45 years, people!
Elizabeth Harvest — This one’s more of a dark science-fiction spin on the old Bluebeard legend (as in, the pirate who killed a lot of wives) than a full-bore horror movie, but it most assuredly treads into scary ground more than a few times. Abbey Lee stars as a delicate young woman with a much older husband (the great Ciaran Hinds), a seemingly helpful servant (Carla Gugino), and a wonderful mansion in which to roam around — except, of course, for one very secret room, one that her domineering spouse keeps locked at all times. Those who know the old legend will probably appreciate the new high-tech facelift; those who don’t may be pleasantly surprised with the dark twists this tale takes. And I mean “pleasantly” ironically.
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich — Back when I was a kid there were tons of these Puppet Master flicks! We could barely keep track beyond the first three! Fortunately none of that matters at all because this is more of a franchise reboot than a traditional — and it’s also as just as much a wacky dark comedy as it is an unapologetic splatter movie. All of you need to know is that a bunch of familiar faces (including the ones belonging to Thomas Lennon, Michael Pare, Nelson Franklin, Charlene Yi, Udo Kier, and Barbara Crampton) are trapped in a hotel with a bunch of pint-sized Nazi monsters. The Littlest Reich is sometimes amusing, frequently very brutal, and joyously mean-spirited throughout. Not much in the plot department, but it doesn’t really matter.
Patient Zero — You know how horror nerds love to argue about the difference between zombies and infected rage freaks? Dawn of the Dead vs. 28 Days Later? Well, here’s a weird horror movie for the fans of the latter category. Matt Smith and Natalie Dormer star as a soldier and a scientist who struggle to keep mankind alive deep inside an underground bunker, but then a feral Stanley Tucci shows up (as sort of an emissary for the violently infected) and that’s when things get even wackier. Not exactly the most unique sci-fi/horror movie you’ll ever see, but there are worse ways to kill 90 minutes.
Trench 11 — I’ve always been a sucker for horror films with a wartime setting so I had a good time with this well-made (if slightly predictable) tale of warfare, secret experiments, and a Nazi plan to end the war in dark and horrific ways. What this one lacks in big stars and fancy effects it makes up for in mood, atmosphere, and some solid scares. And if you dig this one, check out The Keep (1983), The Bunker (2001), or Outpost (2008). Or the Hellboy movies. Oooh, or that Overlord flick that comes out next month.
For those who prefer old-school catalog titles and collecting and such, Scream Factory has two old William Castle classics (Strait-jacket and The Tingler) as well as the underrated 1988 zombie sequel Return of the Living Dead Part II. Hey, they can’t all be genre masterpieces.
And here’s a mysterious recommendation for my fellow Shudder subscribers: check out The Road Movie. Just trust me on this.