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A hand-picked selection of frightful films now available for streaming. Plus: see what's on the marquee this week at UWM Union Cinema, the Avalon, Marcus Theatres, and more.

Last week I brought you all of the Halloween screenings about town this week, a veritable who’s who of slashers, ghouls and creepy crawlies leading all the way to the 31st and beyond. “But Tom”, you say to me, “I’m a millennial. I don’t ingest media through your archaic, outmoded means. What do you have for us, those who scream for stream screams?” For you I have this week’s column, a hand-picked selection of horror movies currently streaming that you can queue up for a get-together this weekend or if you’re just looking to get in the macabre mood by your lonesome.

The Babadook (2014, dir. Jennifer Kent)

Streaming on Netflix – also available on iTunes, Amazon & Google Play

I don’t think I need to say much more beyond the rave review I gave The Babadook earlier this year – I think it’s one of the best horror films of the past twenty years, I think it perfectly balances the considerations of the its genre with that of its thematic concerns, I think it’s immaculately performed (Essie Davis, where have you been all my life?), I think it’s one of the best directorial debuts in forever…I could go on and on. Treat yourself to this wonderfully tense character study if you haven’t yet taken the plunge.

Housebound (2014, dir. Gerard Johnstone)

Streaming on Netflix – also available on iTunes, Amazon & Google Play

For something a bit lighter, but excellent nonetheless might I suggest the Kiwi horror-comedy Housebound.  Placed on home detention after a bungled robbery attempt, surly Kylie (a really wonderful performance from Morgana O’Reilly) is forced to spend time with her superstitious mother only to find that mom’s belief that their home may be haunted isn’t altogether unfounded.  Able to balance laughs and thrills deftly, Housebound keeps you on your toes until its final moments is a great crowd pleaser if you’re looking to augment a weekend get together.

The Human Centipede: First Sequence (2009, dir. Tom Six)

Streaming on Netflix – also available on iTunes, Amazon & Google Play

Stick with me on this one. This movie’s reputation is based more on what people imagine will be showcased, but what you get is rather subdued once you sit down and watch it. It’s a very traditional horror movie, playing off of your imagination more than explicitly showing you anything (but if you want the opposite of that, by all means dig into its skuzzy sequel) and building tension rather expertly throughout. Bonus points for the unhinged performance of Dieter Laser as the scientifically curious gentleman at the story’s center.

Billy Club (2014, dir. Drew Rosas & Nick Sommer)

Streaming on Amazon Prime – also available on iTunes & Google Play

A little local flavor for your viewing this week, with Milwaukee’s own Rosas and Sommer’s ode to the slasher films of their youth. As I stated in my review from the 2013 MFF, Billy Club is a straightforward meat-and-potatoes, clock-in/clock-out style slasher. It doesn’t reinvent the genre, but it does enough in terms of character development and gory kills to stay afloat.

The Visitor (1980, dir. Giulio Paradisi)

Streaming on Amazon Prime – also available on iTunes & Google Play

Words cannot do this crazy movie justice. It starts with awe-inspiring surreal imagery from an intergalactic plane and then segues immediately into a lengthy sequence at a basketball game in Atlanta and only gets stranger from there. John Huston is a Christ-like emissary sent to earth to do battle with a demon child and the vicious hawk that does her bidding. Did I mention that the film also stars Sam Peckinpah, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shelley Winters? Just allow your brain to melt into the psychedelic fever dream that is The Visitor and thank me later.

The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (2013, dir. Helene Cattet & Bruno Forzani)

Streaming on Netflix – also available on Amazon, iTunes & Google Play

If style over substance is what you’re after, you can’t get much more stylish than The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears.  Perfect for a party where you just want horror imagery playing on a screen without context, this ode to/deconstruction of the giallo (Italian slasher thrillers, to simply state it) is fixated on the tactile tropes of the genre – be it leather gloves grasping a knife or the dripping of blood – making for an utterly hypnotic deep dive into pure, visceral cinema like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

 

Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead (2014, dir. Tommy Wirkola)

Streaming on Netflix – also available on Amazon, iTunes & Google Play                                               

Tommy Wirkola was on ‘fool me once’ probation after his zombies versus revelers Dead Snow, but after being pleasantly surprised by the widely derided Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (it apes Sam Raimi’s style pleasantly enough and has some delightful practical effects) I was willing to give his zombie sequel a try.  And I’m reasonably glad I did – it’s a massive improvement over the dire first installment, going all in on self-awareness of the tropes of the zombie picture (bringing in an American zombie-killing squad led by Martin Starr amps the humor, almost too much at times) but having fun with its gruesome violence in a way the first movie never fully figured out. It’s wildly derivative, but like his Hansel and Gretel, it takes those influences and gives them enough verve to make the whole enterprise work!

 

ON THE MARQUEE:

***CRITIC’S CHOICE***

Tuesday, October 27: Vampyr (16mm)

7 p.m. @ UWM Union Cinema (FREE)

Wednesday, October 28: Vertigo

7 p.m. @ Select local Marcus Theatres (Buy tickets here)

Wednesday, October 28:  The Thing

7 p.m. @ UWM Union Cinema ($5 gen. ad/FREE for members & students)

***CRITIC’S CHOICE***

Wednesday, October 28: Dracula ‘31 double feature (both English & Spanish versions)

2 p.m. & 7 p.m. @ Select local Marcus Theatres (Buy tickets here)

***CRITIC’S CHOICE***

Thursday, October 29: John Carpenter’s Halloween

7:30 p.m. @ Select local Marcus Theatres (Buy tickets here)

Thursday, October 29 through Saturday, October 31: The Exorcist

10 p.m. 10/29, 10 p.m. & Midnight 10/30-10/31 @ Select local Marcus Theatres (Buy tickets here)

Thursday, October 29:  The Exorcist

7 p.m. @ UWM Union Cinema ($5 gen. ad/FREE for members & students)

Friday, October 30: Burnt, Our Brand is Crisis, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse and Truth all open locally

Check local listings for showtimes/pricing

Friday, October 30 through Sunday, November 1: The Jungle Book

10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. & 3 p.m. @ Select local Marcus Theatres (Buy tickets here)

Friday, October 30: Scream & Psycho

7 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. @ UWM Union Cinema ($5 gen. ad/FREE for members & students)

Friday, October 30 & Saturday, October 31: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Midnight @ Oriental Theatre (w/ Sensual Daydreams shadow cast!)

Friday, October 30 & Saturday, October 31:  The Exorcist & Nightmare on Elm Street

Midnight @ Avalon Theater, Times Cinema (Exorcist) & Rosebud (Elm Street) ($5!)

Saturday, October 31: The Addams Family, Beetlejuice & Ghostbusters

11:30 a.m. @ Avalon Theater, Times Cinema & Rosebud Cinema respectively ($5!)

Saturday, October 31:   The Thing & The Exorcist

7 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. @ UWM Union Cinema ($5 gen. ad/FREE for members & students)

Sunday, November 1: Oklahoma 60th Anniversary

2 p.m. @ Select local Marcus Theatres (Buy tickets here)

Sunday, November 1: Psycho & Scream

5 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. @ UWM Union Cinema ($5 gen. ad/FREE for members & students)

Monday, November 2: The Princess Bride

7 p.m. @ Select local Marcus Theatres (Buy tickets here)

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