October is back which can mean only one thing: 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. Every Friday in October (and April), you can call the Shudder hotline during a one hour window and get personalized recommendations.
This week, we asked for something disturbing, something funny, something vintage, and of course something Halloween themed! Here’s what Sam gave us!
Something Disturbing – The Untold Story (1993)
Directed by Danny Lee and Herman Yau, Written by Wing-Kin Lau and Kam-Fai Law
One of Hong Kong’s infamous “Category 3” films, The Untold Story is a gritty crime thriller that goes into full horror with its cannibalistic subject matter. Featuring a popular restaurant that seems to have a “special ingredient” in their food, the film follows a group of detectives trying to get to the bottom of it, while also showcasing the incredible brutality behind said restaurant.
Sam was definitely right to recommend this for “Something Disturbing” as it feels like a precursor to many of the grotesque and gory films you’d see in the 2000s. What’s even more disturbing than the film itself, is the fact that it was based on a real life massacre that occurred in Macau in the 1980. A definite must watch if you can stomach such things (pun very intended).
Something Funny – Bloody Hell (2020)
Directed by Alister Grierson, Written by Robert Benjamin
At face value, the premise of this action/thriller/horror movie seems just as disturbing as Untold Story. In fact there are a few cannibalistic themes both films share. But where Bloody Hell really shines is in its sick and twisted sense of humor that it applies its own subject matter with.
We follow a recently released convict whose reason for going to prison was quite complicated. He talks to himself in the form of his conscience, and it’s sort of what makes the movie. As he goes through this brutal and bloody ordeal of survival, his subconscious is right there to crack a joke, and appeal to the dark sense of humor we horror fans have.
It’s also very well shot, particularly the action scenes. And while it does feature its share of cannibalism, somewhere in between is a fascinating commentary on how social media and the news cycle sensationalizes horrific events.
Something Vintage – Carnival of Souls (1962)
Directed by Herk Harvey, Written by John Clifford
Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, Carnival of Souls remains a classic that was very much ahead of its time upon its release in 1962. The film deals with a young woman plagued by hallucinations of some demented carnival. And the entire time, we the audience are never 100% sure if she’s actually seeing ghosts, or if it’s the result of PTSD.
And while everyone else tries to convince her that it’s nothing, we can’t really fault them for it because to them, there truly is nothing. It’s as if she’s gaslighting herself, which makes the ideas all the more unsettling. It’s far less interested in overt scares, and more interested in creating a suspenseful mood.
Stylistically, this feels much less like a movie of its time, and more like something from a decade later. An entire generation of filmmakers, including David Lynch, George A. Romero, and M. Night Shyamalan have specifically cited this movie as a major inspiration for them and it’s easy to see why.
As much fun as it is to explore newer horror movies, it’s equally important to see where we came from with trailblazers like this.
Halloween Themed – Night of the Demons (1988)
Directed by Kevin Tenney, Written by Joe Augustyn
And of course, given that it’s Halloween weekend, I had to ask Sam for something thematically relevant, and he recommended the 1988 classic Night of the Demons. Featuring a group of teenagers having a Halloween party where all hell breaks loose once demons are summoned, it’s the perfect blend of 80s camp and demonic horror.
There are few films that get you into the Halloween spirit like this one. Between its humor, its camp, its practical makeup/gore, and its overall tone, Night of the Demons is the epitome of fun 80s horror, and it has the bonus of being filled with Halloween imagery. As popular as Michael Myers is, none of his movies really evoke the holiday quite like this one!
Thanks again to Shudder and Sam Zimmerman for running this very unique service, that goes above and beyond every other streamer. The Shudder Hotline will be back in April, and we’ll be there to get more recommendations each week! Until then, have a happy Halloween and watch tons of horror movies!
The Untold Story, Bloody Hell, Carnival of Souls, and Night of the Demons are all streaming on Shudder
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