Netflix and kill: Top 20 underrated horror films on Netflix UK
Martyn Conterio | On 24, Aug 2016
When Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard discussed his theory “the anxiety of freedom”, he was clearly talking about what to watch on Netflix. There are so many films to choose from, it’s difficult to know where to start. It can feel a little bit like those halcyon days of trawling the aisles at the video store (remember them?), looking at the cover art and reading the blurbs.
That’s why we’ve hand-picked some horror recommendations currently available on Netflix. You already know from our reviews elsewhere that we love Creep and Grabbers. Instead, this list is a mixture of the new, the old and the forgotten. Happy viewing!
If you loved (or hated) Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon (2016), you might want to check out this similarly-themed tale of Los Angeles excess and depravity. Alexandra Essoe plays a waitress and wannabe actress hitting the rounds of auditions and coming up nought. So frustrated is she at the lack of any form of success, she starts to go nuts. Essoe is extraordinary in the lead role and the final half hour is a terrific – and gory – pay-off for all that proceeded.
Julian Beck scared the bejesus out of us, when we first saw Poltergeist II (1986) on the telly, circa 1995. Beck, an experimental theatre pioneer and some-time movie actor, was suffering from terminal stomach cancer during filming and he died not long after. This explains why Beck looks like a walking corpse and is so effective in the role of Henry Kane, a demonic preacher who targets the Freeling family. With his freaky look, malevolent intent and high-pitched southern gent voice, Beck gave to the world, as a parting gift, one of the scariest screen villains in horror movie history.
The Midnight Meat Train
Bradley Cooper – now one of the biggest movie stars on the planet – made a horror movie with ex-footballer Vinnie Jones. A really cool one. This is not a joke.
Based on a 1984 short story by Clive Barker and directed by Japanese filmmaker, Ryuhei Kitamora, Coop plays an amateur photographer who sticks his nose into somebody else’s offal and gets more than he bargained for. And isn’t the title itself just really awesome?
Best known for his action thrillers, Michael Mann’s second directorial effort has become a cult item. A horror movie about Nazis coming a cropper in a Romanian castle, when they accidentally unleash a supernatural force, it doesn’t make one lick of sense (the film was butchered in the editing room, after Mann turned in a three-hour cut), but thanks to top-notch cinematography and Tangerine Dream’s electronic noodling, The Keep (1983) is a keeper.
Invited to his ex-wife’s Hollywood hills home for a reconciliation and get together with old pals, Will (Logan Marshall-Green, aka. Tom Hardly) begins to wonder if there’s something sinister going on. Karyn Kasuma’s The Invitation is allowed to breathe like an expensive Napa Valley merlot, and the pay-off is superb. Not only a great horror film, it’s also one of 2016’s best, full stop.
Joseph Khan’s fast and furious genre deconstruction should be mentioned in the same breath as The Cabin in the Woods (2012) and Resolution (2012). The pace of Detention (2011) is positively frenetic and director Khan sets the pace at hell for leather. A high-school-sci-fi-horror-teen-comedy like you’ve never seen before.
A gang of angels decide to rebel against God for forging ahead with his plan to make humankind (we bet he wished he hadn’t bothered). Gabriel (Christopher Walken) decides to find the evilest human he can and take their soul back into heaven. His masterplan: turn Heaven to Hell. But Satan’s having none of it and backs a couple of humans to save the day. The Prophecy (1995) is full of imagination. Viggo Mortensen’s Lucifer is another highlight.
Martin Sheen tackles devil-worshippers in John Schlesinger’s 1987 Satanic panic thriller, The Believers. A work of unusual pedigree, the film revolves around a psychoanalyst uncovering a network of fiends involved in child ritual sacrifice and a Hispanic form of witchcraft, known as Brujería. A top supporting cast and cinematography by renowned German DoP, Robby Müller, sets it apart from other 1980s horror flicks about devil-worshippers.
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death
The very definition of a hidden gem in the horror mine. Made way back in 1971, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death takes a very confused heroine and plays around with her sanity. It’s eerie and frankly, more people need to see it.
30 Days of Night
Based on a cool-as graphic novel, this Sam Raimi backed vampire nightmare is set in an inspired locale: Alaska. Clearly indebted to the masterworks of John Carpenter, 30 Days of Night (2007) presents the vampire clan as feral and otherworldly creatures. They’re pure killing machines, not New Romantic goths or sparkly loved up teens. Claustrophobic, intense and scary, David Slade’s film is loads of bloody fun.
Invaders from Mars
Tobe Hooper’s 1986 remake of William Cameron Menzies 1953 classic is not the disaster the history books detail. If you loved Stranger Things, here’s the type of movie it was riffing on in all its authentic 1980s glory. The final scene is super-creepy.
Vampire in Brooklyn
Made in between Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and Scream (also on Netflix UK), two of the best horror pictures of the 1990s, Vampire in Brooklyn is often viewed as a Craven dud. It’s not quite fair, that. Instead of going for a Blaxploitation vibe, the horror master made the Eddie Murphy vehicle in the style of a Tod Browning film and Universal Horror.
The Town that Dreaded Sundown
American Horror Story’s Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s remake and sequel (it’s a very clever piece of work) is a fascinating spin on the theme of ‘sins of the father’. It’s also that rare thing: a remake that’s better than the original. As modern slashers go, it’s a good’un.
Before Tobe Hooper made Invaders from Mars, he delivered Lifeforce (1985). A love letter to Hammer’s Quatermass films, Lifeforce is absolutely fantastic in terms of visual imagination, and absolutely crackers in terms of plot. Matilda May’s naked space vampire is iconic, too. They honestly don’t make ‘em like this anymore. Dan O’Bannon co-wrote the script with Dan Jacoby. The pair also penned Invaders from Mars.