April is back, which means that it’s Halfway to Halloween Month at Shudder! In addition to premiering Cursed Films Season 2 and The Last Drive In Season 4 this month, the Shudder Hotline is back as well! Every Friday this month from 3-4pm ET (12-3pm PT) horror fans can call the hotline number and speak directly with Shudder curator Sam Zimmerman for personalized movie recommendations.
It’s a truly unique service unlike anything offered by every other streaming service. Here at Halloween Year-Round, we have a tradition of calling every week and asking for a series of unique recommendations. Today’s challenge for Sam was a movie from four subgenres: slasher, supernatural/paranormal, monster, and sci-fi horror!
Slasher – The Funhouse (1981)
Directed by Tobe Hooper, Written by Lawrence J. Block
An often overlooked Tobe Hooper classic, released after Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but before Poltergeist, The Funhouse is a fun and creepy early slasher that really makes use of its setting. Right from the opening credits, we’re assaulted by an array of incredibly unsettling clown and carnival imagery.
Part of what makes this movie so fun is that the carnival itself is simultaneously sketchy as hell, but also genuinely looks like fun. While the creepiness is there from the start, it does take a bit long for that actual “slashing” to start. But if you’re enjoying the atmosphere of the location, it’s just a fun movie that will take you back to whatever low budget, shady carnival you’ve visited. And it’ll make you wonder if those places had murders secretly taking place too!
Starring a pre-Amadeus Elizabeth Berridge, you won’t know whether to be more afraid of the Frankenstein-masked killer, or her very pervy little brother who clearly has boundary issues. It’s a relic of a simpler time when slashers weren’t trying to be meta or infuse itself with any social commentary. It’s just straightforward, borderline goofy horror fun.
Supernatural – Roh aka Soul (2019)
Written and Directed by Emir Ezwan, Story by Nazri M. Annuar and Amir Hafizi
From Southeast Asia, Roh was Malaysia’s official selection for the Academy Awards’ Best Foreign Language Film category. It begins as a family drama, as we watch a group of villagers just trying to get by. A creepy little girl shows up with an ominous prediction, and what follows is a terrifying tale of supernatural and folk horror.
The fact that this entire movie takes place in just this tiny village with this one family is both a limitation of its independent budget, while also being a huge strength in terms of suspense. Much like in The Shining, The Thing, or Misery, we very much feel this family’s isolation here. There’s not really anywhere for them to go, which one character very bluntly points out.
Culture and language may differ, but fear is universal. And that’s partly why it’s so much fun to see movies like this on Shudder. While it’s based on another culture’s mythos and folk history, the supernatural fear translates all the same.
Monster – Dawn of the Beast (2021)
Directed by Bruce Wemple, Written by Anna Shields
This low budget, campy monster movie feels like the direct to VOD version of Godzilla vs. Kong, and that’s not a bad thing. The best way to describe this movie is Bigfoot vs. Wendigo, with a dash of Evil Dead thrown in for good measure.
Granted, you do have to sit through a lot of human characters who are not the most interesting to watch, although most of their dialogue is written as intentionally campy in a B-movie creature feature sort of way. But the latter half throws as much at the wall as possible, and there’s something for everyone.
We watch a guy’s possessed girlfriend try to kill him, we see some genuinely terrifying nightmares featuring the Wendigo, and we get a pretty badass Bigfoot done mostly with practical makeup and effects. It’s the type of movie that knows exactly what it is, having fun with its premise. And it makes for one a way more interesting search for Bigfoot than those reality shows where no one ever finds anything!
Sci-Fi – Minor Premise (2020)
Directed by Eric Schultz, Written by Eric Schultz, Justin Moretto, and Thomas Torrey
This week gave us our fix of slashing, campy monsters, and ghostly scares, but Sam’s sci-fi horror pick placated our appetite for something a bit more cerebral…literally. Minor Premise features a scientist who’s attempting to map the brain to better understand consciousness itself.
But in his experiments, he splits his own mind in such a manner that he actually separates things like his intellect, ego, id, and libido so that each one of them has full control of his body for a few minutes at a time. It’s an intriguing idea that feels like a more intellectual approach to something like Split (although the movie is quite clear that it’s not multiple personalities).
It’s a movie that challenges your philosophy of what it means to think or even be human, while also highlighting the chilling realities of how someone could use this for nefarious purposes.
We’ll be back next week with one more set of awesome recommendations from Shudder Curator Sam Zimmerman! Until then, enjoy Halfway to Halloween Month, and watch tons of horror movies!
The Funhouse, Roh, Dawn of the Beast and Minor Premise are all streaming on Shudder