Nothing can get under your skin quite like a terrifying tale of body horror! Here are a few flicks that will make you feel a bit uneasy about what might be going on in your insides, all available on Netflix Instant.
If nothing else, Showtime’s Masters of Horror series showed us that John Carpenter was still alive and well, allowing the veteran genre director a chance to stay sharp while he was taking a break from feature filmmaking. Season One’s “Cigarette Burns” was gleefully insane, featuring Udo Kier as a collector of rare films who keeps an angel chained up in his living room; “Pro-Life” ups it in the crazy department with Ron Perlman as a militant anti-abortionist whose teenage daughter has been knocked up by Satan. Ol’ Scratch himself shows up at the end to claim his offspring, and the thing this poor girl gives birth to will remind you of… well, The Thing…
The coldest-looking movie to ever be filmed on an L.A. soundstage, The Thing is one of director John Carpenter’s best films, both an intense study in paranoia and an all-out gory freakshow (featuring some astonishing work by Rob Bottin). A group of scientists isolated at an Antarctic research station pick up a stray dog that someone in a helicopter was inexplicably shootin’ at — soon thereafter, they’re all wondering which of them is actually a shapeshifting alien. A startling, sometimes unbearably tense and often unpredictable sci-fi chamber piece, one that’s all sorts of deliciously gross and gooey.
One of director Stuart Gordon’s many attempts at bringing the writings of H.P. Lovecraft to the big screen, From Beyond definitely gets an A for effort, even if Gordon never quite gets the tone right, veering maddeningly from mean-spirited (and rather subversive) horror to over-the-top goofiness and back again. A mad scientist has created a device that stimulates the pineal gland, which opens a portal to a parallel universe full of all sorts of terrifying beasties — and makes for some rather disgusting body mutation. Jeffrey Combs is the only one in the cast who seems to “get” what Gordon is going for, and sometimes he actually pulls off carrying this whole heavy crazy load on his shoulders — if nothing else, From Beyond is an uneven but admirable piece of work done by creative people who aren’t afraid to go places most genre filmmakers don’t ever dare (perhaps with good reason).
Anything that can disguise itself as a flower and subdue San Francisco’s yuppie population is a top alien dog in our books. Jack Finney’s 1954 novel The Body Snatchers (which, for the record, isn’t very good) has been adapted (at least officially) for the screen four times: 1956, 1978, 1993 and 2007 all featured variations of people being replaced by emotionless clones as an alien race looks to take over the world through conformity and rather unnerving pointing/screaming. This 1978 version is considered by many to be the best of the lot (though Abel Ferrara’s ’93 version certainly has its merits as well), with Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy and Jeff Goldblum (a sci-fi cast to die for!) all scurrying about as they try to find a way to stop the epidemic. The film’s dark (and rather cynical) ending is actually contrary to the novel’s — and, in its defense, an “unhappy” ending really seems the only appropriate way to wrap up a story like this.
This 2008 remake of Larry Cohen’s 1974 cult classic features Bijou Phillips as a young mother whose newborn babe is probably (definitely) responsible for all of the gruesome murders that have been happening lately. Whilst Cohen’s original had its tongue firmly planted in its cheek, this “rebirth” actually tries to take all of this seriously (at least it kinda sorta seems that way?) — and it makes for a rather unsettling experience to see something so preposterous approached with such conviction (at least we think so? It’s hard to tell when the movie’s about an evil mutant demon baby-thing). A pretty tasteless premise, no matter which way you shake it, but good for some viceral thrills, and Phillips’ character definitely wins the award for Most Clueless Mother Ever.
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