Welcome to Horrorscope, a monthly column keeping horror nerds and initiates up to date on what to watch now. Here’s a guide to all the essential horror streaming in August 2020.
October may get all the credit, but horror is an all-year thing. From camp slashers to outdoor disasters, summertime horror is a cut above. Fall has Michael Myers and Ginger Snaps. Summer has sweaty greats like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Jaws, and Sleepaway Camp. These are hot, restless, and uncomfortably well-lit nightmares. Films that capture the hellish aspects of the dog days: the bugs, the heat, the urge to get dangerously drunk around large bodies of water. Did we mention the bugs?
Indeed, it doesn’t need to be the fall for a good old fashioned seasonally resonant horror marathon. You can conjure the spookies just as easily on a hot summer night. Or in the middle of a blazing August afternoon. This month, I’ve highlighted some films from this month’s streaming additions/departures that fit nicely into the summer horror canon. We’ve got an Aussie cosmic horror filled with lace and midday naps. Plus: bugs, bonfires, and bad campers (oh my!).
Be sure to peruse the complete list below, calendar in hand, for a full picture of what horror flicks are coming and going form your favorite streaming services this month.
Pick of the Month: Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
Synopsis: On a drowsy Valentine’s Day in 1900, the students of an Australian finishing school take a day-trip to a nearby geological wonder. While the rest of their cohort snoozes in the sun, four students and one teacher set off into the brush. The youngest girl returns, wild-eyed and screaming. Days later, another girl emerges with no recollection of what took place. The two remaining students and their teacher are never found. Plucked, it would seem, off the face of the earth.
Peter Weir’s gauzy Aussie period piece is a fantastically enigmatic vision, a dream-like vanishing that will drive those seeking answers to madness. It is one of the most salient examples of cosmic horror outside of the existing handful of H.P. Lovecraft adaptations. When the girls disappear, time gets funny and they climb the rock, drawn by unknown forces, never to return. Were the girls raptured? Did they get lost? Was there some sort of suicide pact? Weir lets the lack of clarity hang in the air like a mist. And, instead, he lets that uncertainty expose the fragility of the control-obsessed powers that be.
Available on Criterion Channel August 2nd.
Synopsis: Fun fact (according to this film): earthworms can be summoned to the surface of the earth with electricity. Funner fact (also according to this film): when you summon earthworms to the surface of the earth with electricity, it turns them into vicious flesh-eaters. So what happens when a power line goes down? Millions of hungry worms emerge from the dirt to eat people. Duh.
A rare Mystery Science Theater 3000 classic that’s just as enjoyable without the commentary, Jeff Lieberman’s Squirm (1976) says it all right in the title. I have immense respect for any film that knows exactly what it is. And boy oh boy does Squirm deliver: this is a film about worms invading a small Southern town, and it doubles down on that conceit. Legend has it the production wiped out New England’s supply of Glycera fishing worms for the rest of the year. Also of note: Squirm is one of the earliest examples of Rick Baker using prosthetics. Which should be a tantalizing enough hint to get you gorehounds to check this one out.
Available on Shudder August 1st.
How’d it get burned? It answered an anonymous letter claiming there was a missing girl on a creepy island
Synopsis: A righteous, devout police officer named Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) arrives on a remote island in search of a missing girl. Summoned to Summerisle by an anonymous letter, he is unnerved by the locals’ bizarre behavior and strange pagan rituals…and their insistence that the missing girl never existed.
Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man (1973) is, without a doubt, one of the best atmospheric slow-builds ever made. Mirroring its pace with Howie’s investigation, the film gradually deposits clues, leading us deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole until it’s too late. Despite being an uptight party pooper, and despite the creeping inevitability that this isn’t going to end well, you hope Howie will make it out in one piece. But your chances are slim when Christopher Lee delivers a career-best (and Hammer Horror defying) performance as Lord Summerisle. This is the presiding granddaddy of the folk horror genre. If it’s been collecting dust on your watch list, it is time to keep your appointment with the Wicker Man.
Leaving Netflix August 29th.
Long Weekend (1978)
Synopsis: A suburban couple and their dog embark on a camping trip on a remote beach to try and save their marriage. The pair show a wild amount of disrespect towards nature: putting out cigarettes in the sand, littering, and killing local wildlife. As tensions mount between the couple, nature decides enough is enough.
Colin Eggleston’s Long Weekend (1978) is an obsessively made thriller, a terror trip of two people so despicable they invite karmic justice from Mother Nature herself. Their toxicity leeches out into their surroundings, and as they lash out at the earth, the animals, and at each other, you can’t help but feel that this is all going to end in (well-deserved) disaster. This is a minimalist and essential eco-horror entry that’s tantalizingly bleak and more serious than your typical “nature strikes back” fare.
Available on Criterion Channel August 2nd.
Streamable Horror Incoming This Month
|Amazon Prime||My Bloody Valentine (1981)||August 1|
|The Criterion Channel||The Cars That Ate Paris (1974)||August 2|
|The Criterion Channel||Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)||August 2|
|The Criterion Channel||Long Weekend (1978)||August 2|
|The Criterion Channel||Spirits of the Dead 1968||August 9|
|The Criterion Channel||Ganja & Hess (1973)||August 13|
|The Criterion Channel||House (1977)||August 23|
|The Criterion Channel||Funny Games (1997)||August 23|
|The Criterion Channel||Hair High (2004)||August 30|
|Hulu||Hellraiser (1987)||August 1|
|Hulu||My Bloody Valentine (1981)||August 1|
|Netflix||Mad Max (1979)||August 1|
|Netflix||The Addams Family (1991)||August 1|
|Netflix||What Keeps You Alive (2018)||August 1|
|Netflix||We Summon the Darkness (2019)||August 8|
|Netflix||Scary Movie 5 (2013)||August 12|
|Netflix||1BR (2019)||August 23|
|Netflix||The Bridge Curse (2020)||August 27|
|Shudder||Squirm (1976)||August 1|
|Shudder||Amityville: It’s About Time (1992)||August 1|
|Shudder||La Llorona (2019)||August 6|
|Shudder||Ring (1998)||August 10|
|Shudder||Ring 2 (1992)||August 10|
|Shudder||Ring 0: Birthday (2000)||August 10|
|Shudder||The Last Drive-In: Summer Sleepover Special||Friday, August 14 at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST|
|Shudder||Jawbreaker (1999)||August 17|
|Shudder||Hellmaster (1992)||August 17|
|Shudder||Uncaged (2020)||August 17|
|Shudder||Random Acts of Violence (2019)||August 20|
|Shudder||The Evil (1978)||August 24|
|Shudder||Mortuary (1983)||August 24|
|Shudder||One Dark Night (1983)||August 24
|Shudder||30 Miles From Nowhere (2018)||August 24
|Shudder||The Shed (2019)||August 27|
Horror Titles Expiring from Streaming SoonOn Their Way Out: These films have one foot in the grave—bump ‘em to the top of your August 2020 queue while you can!
|Criterion Channel||The Last House on the Left (1972)||August 31|
|Criterion Channel||The Hands of Orlac (1924)||August 31|
|Criterion Channel||The Golem (1920)||August 31|
|Criterion Channel||The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)||August 31|
|Criterion Channel||Nosferatu (1922)||August 31|
|Criterion Channel||Caniba (2017)||August 31|
|Hulu||Incident at Loch Ness (2004)||August 31|
|Hulu||Zardoz (1974)||August 31|
|Netflix||Casper (1995)||August 1|
|Netflix||Chernobyl Diaries (2012)||August 1|
|Netflix||Scary Movie 2 (2001)||August 1|
|Netflix||The Witch Files (2018)||August 1|
|Netflix||The Wicker Man (1973)||August 29|