Recommendations from the Shudder Hotline (April 2022) – Week 2

Halfway to Halloween Month is going strong over on Shudder!  Once again this week, we’re calling Shudder curator Sam Zimmerman and asking for some personalized recommendations!

It’s a truly unique service unlike anything offered by every other streaming service, and we’re incredibly grateful to Shudder, and to Sam for providing it.

Today we’re playing the decades game!  The challenge is for Sam to give us a movie from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and post 2000’s!

70’s – The Premonition (1975)
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Directed by Robert Allen Schnitzer, Written by Robert Allen Schnitzer and Anthony Mahon, Additional Dialogue by Louis Pastore
Not to be confused with the 2007 supernatural thriller of the same name starring Sandra Bullock, 1975’s The Premonition is an example of an era we’ve kind of lost with modern movies.  It’s just a weird, bizarre little movie that just absolutely goes for it and isn’t trying to check any boxes to placate some studio executive’s ego.

Following a woman who was previously committed in an asylum, she’s now trying to reunite with her daughter, and comes to discover a parapsychological connection between the two.  It’s weird and trippy in a way that only 70s cinema could be.  And our main character’s circus boyfriend is really just icing on the cake of this WTF movie that’s both intriguing and sanity-questioning!

80’s – Siege (1983)
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Directed by Paul Donovan and Maura O’Connell, Written by Paul Donovan
Set against the backdrop of a real life police strike in Canada, Siege almost feels like a precursor to the Purge series.  It follows a gay bar that’s terrorized by right-wing extremists.  When one patron escapes into an apartment building, the titular siege ensues in a brutal action/thriller that’s very much inspired by Straw Dogs and Assault on Precinct 13.

At its core it’s about the dangers of bigotry and the horrific extremes people will go to suppress people who are different.  And while the movie handles its more delicate themes with the same subtlety as a bus slamming into you, that’s sort of the point of the exploitation subgenre.  And in a sort of depressing manner, it echoes some of the same visuals and sentiments that were on display as recently as 2017 in Charlottesville.

But unlike the Purge movies, Siege isn’t really trying to be profound.  It’s campy and it definitely knows it.  It’s more so a movie that happens to deal with bigger themes and issues coincidentally, while its main focus is being a gritty and violent action movie.

90’s – Trauma (1993)
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Directed by Dario Argento, Screenplay by Dario Argento and T.E.D. Klein, Story by Dario Argento, Gianni Romoli, and Franco Ferrini, Additional Dialogue by Ruth Jessup and Alister Berry
While considered by many to be a “lesser” Dario Argento movie, Trauma had all the hallmarks and visual style of any giallo classic.  James Wan’s Malignant was in many ways a tribune to giallo films in general, but after seeing Trauma for the first time, it definitely feels like it played a larger role in Wan’s inspiration.

That said, its writing and acting could use some work.  Piper Laurie channels her performance as Margaret White in Carrie, although she seems to be playing it almost for laughs (something Laurie later confirmed).  And to be fair to Asia Argento, it was one of her first lead roles and she definitely got better in later movies with more experience.

The fact that Dario Argento cast his own daughter in a lead role does admittedly feel a bit like Sofia Coppola in Godfather III.  However, Trauma gets way more uncomfortable when you consider the fact that Asia (who was 16-17 during filming) has a topless scene that was directed by her dad.

It’s a movie that’s probably not for everyone, except for Argento purists.  But it’s a decent giallo mystery/thriller that at the very least tries.

00’s – They Look Like People (2015)
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Written and Directed by Perry Blackshear
This was a movie I had always heard of, but never got around to watching until Sam’s recommendation.  And to be honest, I think it broke my brain a little.  They Look Like People is superbly written, directed, and acted.  While this term may be cringe-inducing, this movie very much feels like “elevated horror”.

It takes time with its character development and really draws its viewer in.  One of the best things a psychological thriller can do is keep its audience guessing as to whether something paranormal is actually happening or if the protagonist is simply losing their mind.

And the very best psychological thrillers make the audience feel the same way, as if we’re losing our grip on reality.   Between its surreal style and unsettling vibes, this movie achieves both brilliantly and it’s definitely left me feeling a bit paranoid ever since watching it…

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!

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The Shudder Hotline is open every Friday in April from 3-4pm ET. Give Sam a call!


The Premonition, Siege, Trauma
and They Look Like People are all streaming on Shudder

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