Best Of Netflix: Honorary Tricks And Treats

[BoxTitle]Hatchet[/BoxTitle] [Trailer][/Trailer] [Netflix] [NetflixAdd id="70075059"/] [NetflixWatch id="70075059"/]

Adam Green’s old-school horror flick takes place in the Louisiana bayou, where a group of people on a cheesy “haunted” boat tour learn the legend of Victor Crowley, a hideously deformed man who was accidentally murdered by his hatchet-wielding father. When the boat sinks, the stranded passengers discover that the legend is all too real — and he’s played by the same guy who played Jason in a bunch of the Friday the 13th movies (Kone Hodder). Hatchet is a slasher flick, through and through, filled with enough blood, guts and dismembered body parts to satisfy even the most jaded seen-it-all horror fan — you also get at least one hot and heavy lesbian makeout scene and a bunch of girls flashing their boobs as they’re enraptured by the spirit of Mardi Gras. Green knows the genre, and knows how to stake his claim in it, with genre veteran Kane delivering a spirited performance as the maniacal killer; you also get supporting performances by Robert Englund (whacked in the very first scene!) and Tony Todd as “Reverend Zombie,” the former and recently disgraced guide of the Haunted Swamp Tour.

[BoxTitle]The Masque of the Red Death[/BoxTitle] [Trailer][/Trailer] [Netflix] [NetflixAdd id="70147561"/] [NetflixWatch id="70147561"/]

“Sic transit gloria mundi.” Roger Corman’s psychedelic adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s classic tale of the end of the world stars Vincent Price as Prince Prospero, a cruel Satanist who invites several members of the nobility in medieval Europe to his castle for protection against the plague that is sweeping across the land. Several subplots meander about, including the kidnapping and attempted corruption of a Christian peasant girl and the vengeful crusade of a dwarf jester named Hop-Frog (which is actually based on a separate Poe story, “Hop-Frog”), until the climactic masked ball at which no one is allowed to wear red — and at which a mysterious guest appears, dressed in the forbidden color and come to claim these decadent fools: “There is no face of Death until the moment of your own death. Each man creates his own God for himself‚Ķ his own Heaven, his own Hell.” Spoken like a true poet! The Masque of the Red Death is but one of eight Poe adaptations that Corman produced, though it’s definitely one of the best, featuring an unsettling surreal atmosphere and ever-mounting sense of dread of which Poe himself would be proud. And Vincent Price is, of course, fantastic.

[BoxTitle]Lo[/BoxTitle] [Trailer][/Trailer] [Netflix] [NetflixAdd id="70129611"/] [NetflixWatch id="70129611"/]

One of the most clever low-budget horror movies in recent years (well, it might be better described as a horror-comedy-musical), Travis Betz’s Lo follows Justin (Ward Roberts), a hopeless romantic who attempts to get his girlfriend April (Sarah Lassez) back after she’s kidnapped by the demon known as Jeez (Devin Barry). Justin uses an ancient book of spells to summon various demons in an attempt to get her released, assisted by a monstrous trickster named Lo (Jeremiah Birkett), who may not be exactly trustworthy. Shot in three days, Lo features hardly any scenery — the film looks and unfolds like a stage play with its dialogue-heavy narrative and characters revealed in isolated pools of light surrounded by darkness. Betz’s ambitious film doesn’t always work (and runs a little long even at only 80 minutes), but the writer-director deserves credit for making an extremely unique genre film with a distinct visual style on a very limited budget — above all, though, Lo is an often funny and imaginative twist on the Faust formula, regardless of how it was made or how much it cost.

[BoxTitle]The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari[/BoxTitle] [Trailer][/Trailer] [Netflix] [NetflixAdd id="342780"/] [NetflixWatch id="342780"/]

A silent classic that remains one of the freakiest and most effective horror movies ever made (as well as an early influence on the art of film noir), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari follows two young men, Francis and Alan, as they travel to a carnival and witness an attraction featuring the mysterious Dr. Caligari and his hulking sleepwalking companion, Cesare. During the show, Cesare tells Alan that he’ll be dead by dawn, a prophecy that ends up coming true! Gee, we wonder how? A startling piece of German expressionism, Caligari was shot on highly stylized theatrical sets that suggest only vague shapes and outlines, twisted and contorted to represent a world of madness and chaos. There’s a good reason for this particular visual approach — we won’t say what it is here, but just know that this is one of the first films to feature a “twist ending,” one that you probably won’t see coming (which should be the case with any good twist ending, no?). Director Robert Wiene’s fantastic film serves as a precursor and worthy companion piece to F.W. Murnau’s all-time German expressionist horror champion, Nosferatu (1922).

[BoxTitle]Dracula[/BoxTitle] [Trailer][/Trailer] [Netflix] [NetflixAdd id="458589"/] [NetflixWatch id="458589"/]

Director John Badham’s 1979 take on Bram Stoker’s classic tale of a Romanian immigrant who unleashes a scourge of evil upon high society London (you may be familiar with it) features Frank Langella as the Count, engaged in an exhausting contest with Laurence Olivier as Professor Van Helsing and Donald Pleasance as Dr. Jack Seward in which the three men try to out-ham each other. It pretty much ends in a draw, though Olivier is ahead of the pack most of the time; however, the ridiculous production design might end up being the unofficial winner (why in the hell would an abbey have statues of giant gargoyles and other gothic designs in it?). Despite all the theatrical posturing and hopelessly ’70s flourishes (inexplicable red lights flash as Dracula and Lucy have sex whilst a superimposed bat puppet bounces around), this Dracula is actually a lot of fun, floundering about as it tries so hard to be sexy/scary/cool and not quite pulling any of it off. The most interesting thing about this adaptation is it cuts the first act with Dracula and Jonathan Harker in Transylvania completely; we begin immediately on the doomed Demeter en route from Varna to Whitby, tempest-tossed as its vampire stowaway knocks off the crew one by one.

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