Recommendations from the Shudder Hotline – Week 3 (April 2021)

For the third week in a row, Shudder continued its Hotline to commemorate Halfway to Halloween Month!  Unlike any other streaming service, fans can call in once a week during an hour window and get personalized recommendations from Shudder curator Sam Zimmerman!

So we decided to call in and ask Sam for 4 more recommendations, this time based on decades.  He more than delivered with something funny, something creepy, something gory, and something thought-provoking!

Something Funny – Suburban Gothic (2014)
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Directed by Richard Bates Jr., Written by Richard Bates Jr. and Mark Bruner

When describing this supernatural horror comedy, Sam likened it to Scooby-Doo, which was quite fitting.  Suburban Gothic features Matthew Gray Gubler (Criminal Minds, How to be a Serial Killer) as a psychic who attempts to deal with a ghostly problem in his hometown.

Along for the ride is a bartender played by Kat Dennings (Thor, WandaVision, 2 Broke Girls) and what results is a darkly hilarious story of a slacker who never really grew up or applied himself trying to come to terms with his gift, his family, and his responsibility in the world.

It also features small but memorable roles from horror legends like Jeffrey Combs and John Waters.  It’s genuinely funny, and perfect for watching with someone who’s not necessarily looking to get scared, but who loves to laugh.

Something Creepy – Lake Mungo (2008)
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Written and Directed by Joel Anderson

For this recommendation, I asked Sam for something that would linger long after watching it, and as it turns out, this was the perfect choice.  Playing out entirely as a faux documentary, Lake Mungo almost tricks you into thinking it’s real, which is what makes it so unsettling.

The tragic death of a teenage girl leaves her family in shambles.  But when they start to notice images of her surfacing in the background of photographs, they question whether she’s even dead or if she’s trying to communicate from beyond the grave.

As far as found footage mockumentaries go, Lake Mungo seems more plausible than a lot of the more polished movies that big studios play out.  Its smaller budget works to its advantage, giving it a grit that many found footage movies never quite grasp.

Something Gory – The Beyond (1981)
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Directed by Lucio Fulci, Screenplay by Lucio Fulci, Giorgio Mariuzzo, and Dardano Sacchetti, Story by Dardano Sacchetti

Given that The Last Drive In just showed House by the Cemetery this very same week, The Beyond wound up being the perfect companion piece.  Both are from Lucio Fulci’s “Gates of Hell Trilogy” and The Beyond is considered by many to be the best of the three and the director’s overall masterpiece.

It’s far more Lovecraftian than Fulci’s other films, but goes just as far with the gleefully grotesque and delightfully disgusting gore that diehard horror fans crave.  The practical makeup effects are amazing and very much hold up, even after 40 years.

And while the gore is plenty of fun, The Beyond goes one step beyond (pun very intended) with a surreal, dreamlike tone that feels reminiscent of Dario Argento.  It results in a movie that’s just as bloody as its contemporaries, but also kind of beautiful to watch, in a disturbing messed up kind of way.

So if you can’t decide between trashy gore and European surrealism, The Beyond is the perfect blending of the two.  But be warned, don’t watch if you’re afraid of spiders.  On second thought, do watch it if you’re afraid of spiders because it will be hilarious for everyone else in the room!

Something Thought-Provoking – Violation (2021)
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Written and Directed by Dusty Mancinelli and Madeleine Sims-Fewer

The entire rape/revenge subgenre, while semi-popular in the 70’s and 80’s, has become quite controversial and rightfully so.  Dealing with such upsetting subject matter that’s sadly realistic, many movies crossed the line into sensationalizing it for entertainment purposes.

Violation is a modern response to all those movies that came before.  Focusing less on exploitation and more on character and trauma, it still contains the brutal revenge, but the assault that prompts it isn’t lingered on.

Plus, it’s told out of order, so there’s no vindication during the revenge part, since at that time, we don’t know for sure what the revenge is for.  It features strong performances all around, and is definitely not something to watch if you’re in the mood for something fun and lighthearted.  But if you’re looking for something brutal that will make you think, check it out.

Suburban Gothic, Lake Mungo, The Beyond, and Violation are all streaming on Shudder!

We’ll be back next week with another set of awesome recommendations from Shudder curator himself, Sam Zimmerman.  Until then, stay scared and enjoy Halfway to Halloween Month!

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The Shudder Hotline is open every Friday in April from 3-4pm ET

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