(Welcome to Now Scream This, a column where horror experts Chris Evangelista and Matt Donato tell you what scary, spooky, and spine-tingling movies are streaming and where you can watch them.)
Matt: Welcome back to Now Scream This, your one-stop shop for streaming horror recommendations. The haze of summer swelter is upon us, and for those days where air conditioner breezes better combat Mr. Sun’s rays, we’ve got some cool-down entertainment picks. If you’re like me, you can only watch Joe Dante’s Piranha and Alexandre Aja’s Piranha 3D on repeat so many times to celebrate the splashy-savage horror season. Let’s see what nightmares await this week?
Chris: Matt and I are back with more horror recommendations for you, dear reader. This week’s efforts are theme-less, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth checking out. We like themes to keep things fun and fresh around here, but we also like to step back and just rattle off a list of great horror movies that may have slipped through your fingers, especially if you’re the type of person in the market for something scary to watch, right now. Thankfully, we’re here to help! You’re welcome.
Skull: The Mask
Now Streaming on Shudder
Matt: From Brazil comes Armando Fonseca and Kapel Furman’s mystical hack-and-slash, Skull: The Mask. You’re not here for the rather rudimentary plot where an enchanted skeletal covering unleashes the soul of a serial killer—you’re here for some badass gore beats. Rurik Jr. is credited as “Skull,” a Colombian answer to Jasons or Michaels who lumber and slaughter and never relent. It’s a midnighter soaked in the most gruesome crimson washover, right down to one nightlife clubber’s vertebrae used as an impalement tool on another victim. Secret organizations of the occult, shotgun-cocking hunters of the supernatural, and flamethrowers? Welcome to São Paulo!
Chris: I’ve heard a lot of great buzz about this – specifically the gore – so I sat down to watch it recently. And then I immediately turned it off. In my defense, it was late – somewhere around 2:00 A.M. But the first few moments of this film looked so painfully cheap that I needed to jump ship. Based on what Matt said above, though, I’m going to give it another chance.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do it
Now Streaming on HBO Max
Matt: I have a lot of complicated thoughts about The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. There’s no comparison to James Wan’s first two entries—they remain immaculate, and Michael Chaves remains in Wan’s shadow. That said? The Warrens’ advocacy for “Demonic Possession” in a true-life 80s murder trial sustains based on the performances of Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. We’re here for Horror Mom and Horror Dad’s deepening relationship, conquering evil with their intimate investigative tactics, and the chemistry between two phenomenal actors making spooky Hallmark heroes out of actual monsters. Chaves’ still struggles with some basic scare architectures, but hell, for a Friday night stream with other Conjurverse fans? You’re getting your subscription rate’s worth right there.
Chris: I am ride or die for The Conjuring series. You know how people go ape shit every time there’s a new Fast and the Furious film? Well, that’s me, but with The Conjuring. I don’t love The Devil Made Me Do It as much as the first two main Conjuring movies, but as long as Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are making these, I will watch them.
The Amusement Park
Now Streaming on Shudder
Matt: Spoiler alert! Chris and I are both going to recommend this thought to be lost George A. Romero flick because, well, it’s an absurdly sharpened spear that stabs society in the heart. The Amusement Park is about growing old, becoming invisible, and treating seniority like the plague. We watch as a chipper and youthful-at-heart elder gentleman played by Lincoln Maazel is stripped of dignity, dehumanized like a nonperson, and left a bloody, blubbering mess as attendees at some bustling amusement park—the mirror to us all—keep jovially parading the grounds without care. It’s a sensory overload at times, and the sound restoration is a bit staticy, but kudos to Yellow Veil Pictures for helping release this experimental oddity to the public!
Chris: Matt and I make a point to not recommend the same thing at once. But we’re willing to make an exception here, because The Amusement Park is a very big deal.
Seed Of Chucky
Now Streaming on Netflix
Matt: I recommend Seed Of Chucky not as a joke, which most franchise fans have made the comedy-forward sequel out to be over years of scathing reactions. Don Mancini no doubt doubles down on the metatextual humor that blooms throughout Bride Of Chucky, and it can be jarring for those more “pure” horror enthusiasts. That said? New articles written by members of the LGBTQ+ community have begun to readdress Seed Of Chucky for its introduction of Glen/Glenda, in a time—ancient 2004—where if you flung a rock down any Hollywood studio backlot, you still wouldn’t hit a character vocally exploring their identity in such a way. It warms my heart to see Seed Of Chucky be discovered and promoted by the audiences it was intended for, who recognize what Mancini tried to introduce into the horror lexicon as more than the “weirdness” of a gender-fluid doll-person-child. Plus? It’s funny. Fangoria wanks and all.
Chris: The Child’s Play franchise is one of my all-time favorite horror franchises, so I’m always up for some Chucky. I don’t love Seed of Chucky as much as some, primarily because I think it goes way too far into the world of camp. And don’t get me wrong – I love camp! And I like this movie. I just like the other films in the series more.
Now Streaming on Plex
Matt: Do you yearn for an era of slasher where goth-hottie partiers venture to a doomed location where an unstoppable entity lurks, attacks, and leaves all characters in a pulpy mess of butcher’s shop leftovers? Sweatshop is for you! Directed by Stacy Davidson, co-written by Ted Geoghegan, this nasty 2009 slaughterhouse flick pits horned-up, substance-impaired ravers against “The Beast,” a welding-mask brute who lumbers around like redneck Pyramid Head dragging a massive sledgehammer weapon. Legend has it the film’s script was intended to be a Hustler produced horror project, which explains some of the crasser, sexually-aggressive “humor,” so you’ll know if this softcore-sleazy mess of guts is for you after a few minutes—but you’re here for the gore. On a $7,000 budget, holy cannoli do these kills scream quality. For that, I respect Sweatshop and its DIY practical showcase.
Chris: Damn, I thought we were on the verge of a rare Now Scream This entry where I’ve seen all of Matt’s picks, but no, he had to go ahead and throw this in there. Thanks, Matt.
The Amusement Park
Now Streaming on Shudder
Chris: George A. Romero‘s “lost” movie The Amusement Park is scary as hell (read my review here). Romero was hired by the Lutheran Society to direct an educational industrial movie about ageism. What he gave them is a surreal nightmare that was so out there that the Lutheran Society decided to never show it to anyone. Thankfully, we now get to see The Amusement Park for ourselves, and it does not disappoint. While this isn’t a horror film in the traditional sense, it’s plenty horrifying, as we watch an elderly man (Lincoln Maazel) stumble around an amusement park from hell. The end result is chilling. It left me highly disturbed, more so than any other Romero movie I’ve seen.
Matt: As I said above, what a punishingly honest horror story about the nightmare fate that awaits us all.
Annabelle Comes Home
Now Streaming on HBO Max
Chris: As I mentioned earlier in this post, I love The Conjuring series. And one of my favorite entries is Annabelle Comes Home. This is an endlessly entertaining spook show that plays out like a Halloween haunted house in movie form. While ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren are out of town, their daughter Judy (Mckenna Grace) is left home with the babysitter (Madison Iseman). Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem. But the Warren house is home to an artifact room full of cursed objects – including the demon doll Annabelle. And when Annabelle gets out of her glass cage, she unleashes a horde of ghosts and ghouls to terrifying Judy at every turn. It’s one of the most enjoyable horror movies of the last ten years.
Matt: As I’ll keep saying over and over again, Annabelle Comes Home has all the feel of a Halloween Horror Nights maze, and I mean that as an effusive compliment.
Now Streaming on Hulu
Chris: When it comes to religious-based horror, Catholicism seems to get all the attention. So it’s always nice when we get a religious fright flick that delves into something different. The Vigil follows a young immigrant man in America desperate for cash. He’s presented with a paying gig for one night: he has to keep vigil over a dead man, in keeping with Orthodox Jewish traditions. Sitting alone in a room with a dead body all night? What could go wrong? Lots of stuff! Director Keith Thomas (who is helming the upcoming Firestarter reboot) builds tons of tension here using sound design and slowly mounting dread. And while The Vigil relies a bit too heavily on loud jump scares, it’s still plenty creepy.
Matt: The confinement of this religious horror story is one of the best horror experiences you’ll find all year—for sure so far, but my money’s on The Vigil ending up in my top ten of the year (horror genre specific).
Now Streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video
Chris: Whoops, I put two different religious horror movies on the list. But I can’t let this column go by without mentioning Saint Maud, a scary slow burn with an ending that will kick your ass. Morfydd Clark is incredible, playing Maud, a very religious hospice nurse who believes she has to save the soul of her latest patient, a dying dancer played by (Jennifer Ehle). But Maud’s faith borders on mania, and it becomes clear pretty quickly that she’s not right in the head. And that’s all I’m going to say. Just know that the final shot of this movie is an all-timer.
Matt: I didn’t love Saint Maud as much as y’all given how impact hinges on that shotgun blast of a two-second ending, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it—Morfydd Clark is worth the price of admission.
The Clovehitch Killer
Now Streaming on Netflix and Hulu
Chris: This somewhat under-the-radar chiller asks: What if your nerdy, mild-mannered father was actually a terrifying, prolific serial killer? Teenager Tyler (Charlie Plummer) starts to suspect that very thing, and he doesn’t know what do about it. To everyone else, Tyler’s father Don (Dylan McDermott) is as milquetoast as they come. But Tyler has found several bits of circumstantial evidence that strongly suggests Don is actually a BTK-like serial killer. Is he right, or just being paranoid? I won’t give too much away, but I will tell you that The Clovehitch Killer is chilling and supremely effective. McDermott is particularly fantastic here, playing a tricky character that you can’t quite pin down. Some of the film’s construction goes astray – a late decision to show the same scene twice from two different points of view ruins the movie’s pacing – but this is an overall damn fine indie horror flick more people should seek out.
Matt: Kudos, Dylan McDermott. That’s all I can say without spoiling way too much. That, and I like The Clovehitch Killer quite a bit.
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