Hidden Horror Hits of 2016
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Many may see 2016 as yet another year of superhero domination, but there are also plenty of low-budget horrors just as worthy of your time.
Since last year’s FrightFest, we’ve been scouring everything from Netflix, to iTunes, to local DVD stores looking for the next great under-seen horror treats. The results are this little list, all of which are available to stream on demand or pick up on DVD from either right now, or incredibly soon!
We’ve already talked about how bonkers Nina Forever is, how fantastically silly Deathgasm is, and how totally balls-to-the-wall mad Aaaaaaaaah! proved to be, but there’s still plenty more where they came from.
We went through a lot of blood, a lot of screaming and a surprising amount of llamas, but here’s the definitive breakdown. There might even be a second part some time soon, you never know - it’s been a great year for the more low-rent releases so far, and I can’t see that slowing down any time soon.
First up is one of the more grounded efforts, which may seem odd considering it’s about an inter-dimensional portal discovered by a shower curtain. Otherwise known as The Gateway, Jaron Henrie-McCrea’s film follows former-nurse Danni (Danni Smith) as she moves into a new apartment in the depths of NYC, but soon finds that her bathroom just so happens to harbour an entrance to somewhere sincerely fucked-up. Enlisting the help of her co-worker Tim, Danni tries her very best to uncover what the hell is going on and why all her shower curtains keep disappearing, bringing all sorts of dark laughs and bloody realisations together to form a film that although incredibly cheap, certainly wins points for creativity.
Curtain is available to stream on iTunes and other VOD services through FrightFest Presents.
The Paz Brothers’ oddly-titled outbreak drama is another one worthy of a lot more praise than it’s received. Fans of found-footage will find a lot to love from this one, as it takes the now bog-standard approach and flips it ever-so-slightly, having the film’s protagonist experience a biblical-flavoured nightmare entirely through Google glass. The super-tech specs may not be as big as they were once tipped-to-be, but this twist makes a surprising amount of sense in the context of the film, and allows for a whole host of POV faux pas to actually make sense - like the inclusion of the odd spot of music for example. It’s still mega cheap, and takes a little while to get going, but this one definitely deserves a watch for creative direction alone.
JeruZalem is out now on DVD through Matchbox Films and is also available to stream on iTunes and other VOD services.
Having topped the iTunes horror charts, it seems that Emelie has already found something of an audience, which makes sense considering it’s one of the list’s more down-to-earth releases. Starring Sarah Bolger (Once Upon A Time, that awful Stormbreaker adaptation) as quite literally the babysitter from hell, Emelie boasts an incredibly tense and crowd-pleasing plot, as well as arguably one of the best child-centric casts of any recent horror, making for an insanely thrilling watch that really deserves your time.
Emelie is out now on DVD and is also available to stream on iTunes and other VOD services through FrightFest Presents.
Landmine Goes Click
Levan Bakhia’s truly twisted bare-bones drama features former TV-star Sterling Knight (you may recognise him from 17 Again - though I won’t blame you if you don’t) as a man driven to the very edge of sanity when he finds himself accidentally stepping on a landmine. I won’t give away how he ends up in this situation, or what it eventually leads to - the film’s total unpredictability is part of the fun - but rest assured, things get insanely dark and insanely chilling rather quickly. Take from this one what you will, but for such a bold set-up, it certainly moves in interesting places.
Landmine Goes Click is available to stream on iTunes and other VOD services through FrightFest Presents.
We already raved about Corin Hardy’s old-school monster flick last year, but with its DVD release having just passed, we figured it deserved even more love. Following a young family’s attempts to relocate to the Irish countryside, Hardy’s debut sets itself up as something of a twisted fairytale, weaving in slices of well-researched folklore into a classical monster movie template. The biggest draw here though is the film’s creature designs, realised almost entirely with practical effects, ranging from rubber suits to some ridiculously lifelike puppets. The absence of the all-to-common computer tinkery does wonders for The Hallow, making it one of the most unique and brilliantly fanboyish releases in a while.
The Hallow is out now on DVD through Entertainment One.
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Part creature-feature, part Linklater-esque romance, Spring is certainly an odd one. Flying dangerously low under the UK radar, it premiered over here at 2014’s BFI London Film Festival, but has since gone on to pick up something of a cult following. Pulled together by upcoming duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, the film finds a young American running away to Italy to escape a family bereavement, only to run into the girl of his dreams… who promptly turns out to be an ancient, immortal and heavily-tentacled monster. It’s both sweet and sincere, nailing a whole bunch of warring tones and making for something really quite unique.
Spring is out now on DVD through Metrodome and is also available to stream on Netflix.
All Cheerleaders Die
Lucky McKee is a name synonymous with the weirder side of the horror genre. After finding cult fame with his 2002 debut May (a terrific coming-of-age/freak-out drama that’s also worth a watch) and continuing his warpath right the way through to 2011’s ecstatically dark, funny and poor-taste The Woman, McKee decided to remake an old first love of his: a wickedly funny script about flesh-eating cheerleaders. What ensues is exactly what you would come to expect from such a set-up. Gloriously cheap, trashy and a helluva lot of fun; if you haven’t seen a Lucky McKee film yet, now’s the time to start.
All Cheerleaders Die is out now on DVD through Altitude Film Distribution and is also available to stream on Netflix.
Troma’s Entire Catalogue
The kings of bad taste and low-rent horror, Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz’s Troma Entertainment have been rolling out cheap and nasty flicks since the early 1970s, riffing on everything from superhero blockbusters to John Hughes-style teen comedies. It may not exactly be new, but thanks to the wonders of the internet, and y’know, Kaufman’s own immeasurable kindness, the entirety of Troma’s back-catalogue is now available to stream for free on YouTube. Everything from the studio’s biggest hits like The Toxic Avenger to the far cheaper but just as funky Troma’s War are all there, including a little early effort from Guardians of the Galaxy’s James Gunn - Tromeo and Juliet. For hardcore fans of dark humour and low-budgets, this is a literal goldmine.
Troma Entertainment’s entire filmography is available to stream on YouTube here.