The Granddaddy of Body Horror was a German Expressionist Film

This month's Horrorscope includes German Expressionist classic 'The Hands of Orlac' and a bunch of other streaming recommendations for horror lovers.

Hands Of Orclac

Welcome to Horrorscope, a monthly column keeping horror nerds and initiates up to date on all the genre content coming to and leaving from your favorite streaming services.




Every horror fan has that one thing that makes their stomach do backflips. That one weapon, body part, or setup whose appearance draws fingers over eyes and elicits a guttural “oh god no” from even the hardest horror geek. For some, it’s anything to do with hands and nails. For others, it’s razors. These sorts of scenes activate some arcane neural pathway from childhood; that buzz you used to get watching cable after midnight and stumbling across something evil and obscene that leaves your skin covered in an icky, imperceptible film, feeling like you’ve come into contact with something truly forbidden.

March, it turns out, is a time for the icky and uncomfortable. All my picks for this month are unconventional body horrors that are in some way, a little gross, a little sticky, and absolutely corporeal. This month, I’m shouting out two newer flicks from the past year: a hotly-anticipated possession buddy comedy (yes!) and a deranged Spanish dystopia that had me squirming in my seat deeply regretting my last meal. Rounding things out with some older entries, we’ve got Guillermo del Toro’s oft-overlooked sophomore feature plus an eternally creepy body horror forbearer.

This month has some exciting new additions, including Criterion Channel’s German Expressionism collection, which drops March 22nd. If you’ve been meaning to check out silent cinema horror classics like The Golem or M — this is as good an opportunity as any. I’m also mightily intrigued by Netflix’s original series Bloodride, an anthology framed around the twisted tales of doomed passengers aboard a spectral bus. We must always hold our breaths when horror anthologies are concerned, but this one looks promising.

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: The Hands Of Orlac (1924)

Orlac

Synopsis: The original murderous body parts possession tale! An experimental transplant gives an injured concert pianist the hands of a murderer. And after the operation, the pianist is seized by the uncontrollable urge to kill. Oops!

The Hands of Orclac is a German Expressionist classic featuring the face of the movement, Conrad Veidt, as the unlucky concert pianist Paul Orlac, a man who has his hands crushed in a horrible railway accident, only for things to get much, much worse when he receives a transplant from a known murderer. With a confident disregard for Cartesian dualism, the hands appear to have a mind of their own, and Orlac soon develops a fascination with knives, so to speak. Is Orlac really falling prey to the will of his transplanted mitts, or has he been craving violence all along? Which is worse?

Under the direction of Robert Wiene (who’d worked previously with Veidt on The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari), The Hands of Orlac is a masterwork of the macabre that pits a man’s own body (well…kind of ) against himself. A blur of self and body, desire and control, The Hands of Orlac is a worthy progenitor of the body horror sub-genre. Don’t let its age fool you: there is an inherent terror to the stuttery rhythms of silent cinema.

Available on Criterion Channel March 26th.

How to not to solve a plague, according to Guillermo del Toro

Mimic

Synopsis: A plague carried by cockroaches threatens to wipe out the children of New York City. There’s only one solution: make a genetically engineered bug that can mimic and destroy the diseased roaches. What could possibly go wrong?

Mimic may very well be Guillermo del Toro’s least-seen film. And considering the director effectively disowned this sophomore feature of his after constant fighting with the Weinsteins, it’s no surprise that the 1997 release has slipped through the cracks of many a watchlist. While undoubtedly a studio potboiler, for what it is, Mimic has a lot to offer. Including hard proof of the perseverance for del Toro’s quintessential “fetish for insects, clockwork, monsters, dark places, and unborn things.Mimic is fascinating and flawed; approach it as one would the site of a crime. (And, for bonus marks, track down and listen to del Toro’s commentary on the 2011 Director’s Cut, it’s very good).

Leaving Hulu March 31st.

Trickle Down Trash-enomics

The Platform

SynopsisIn this satirical Spanish sci-fi flic, inmates are fed via a platform that slowly descends their tower-like prison, with each level containing an individual cell and two starving occupants. A supposedly fair system if each inmate takes their fair share, the practice inevitably favors the higher-up leaving those on the lower levels to scrounge. 

The Platform won the People’s Choice Award at TIFF’s Midnight Madness program of underground and cult films last year. And considering it was up against the likes of Color Out of Space, Saint Maud, and The Vast of Night, that means it rips pretty dang hard. Rising above (haha) the simplicity of its allegory, The Platform is nevertheless rife with thrills, twists, and a pitch-black comedic tenor. It’s one hell of a ride and one of the most disgusting displays of avarice in recent memory.

Available on Netflix March 20th.

A campy look at inner demons from SpectreVision

Daniel Isn't Real

Synopsis: Luke is a troubled young adult with a dark past and an unquiet mind. And by an unquiet mind, we mean a psychotic imaginary friend named Daniel, who comes back into Luke’s life with horrifying results. Things only get worse as Luke starts to suspect his “inner demon” might be…more literal than he’d originally thought.

Daniel Isn’t Real is one of the most anticipated horror films of 2020. Or at least, it is for anyone who’s been keeping a close eye on SpectreVision, the exciting studio behind the likes of Mandy and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. It’s the latest offering from the esteemed genre house, and with Adam Egypt Mortimer at the helm, there’s plenty to entice. He and the SpectreVision boys are now in the process of trying to arrange a crack at a Nightmare on Elm St. film, which is all to say, the word on the street is he’s a director to watch.

Daniel Isn’t Real has a lot to offer, but it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. The film boasts some really gnarly creatures effects, another brilliant SpectreVision OST, and rock-solid performances from Miles Robbins (as Luke) and Sasha Lane (as Luke’s love-interest, Cassie). It’s also a lot campier than I think most folks are expecting. Patrick Schwarzenegger is the chief offender and plays Daniel like an alien who’s just watched every single erotic thriller the ’90s ever produced. So, if you’re sympathetic to its goofiness: Daniel Isn’t Real is a good time.

Available on Shudder March 26th. And or the extra-interested, Mortimer’s 2015 feature debut, Some Kind of Hate, arrives on Shudder March 23rd.

Fresh Blood: Streamable Horror Incoming This Month

Inbound horror genre titles all in one place, for your streaming pleasure.

Netflix

Available March 1st
Corpse Bride (2005)
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)

Available March 5th
Castlevania: Season 3 (2020) – Netflix Original Series

Available March 13th
Bloodride (2020) – Netflix Original Series
Kingdom (2020) – Netflix Original Series

Available March 20th
The Platform (2019) – Netflix Original


Hulu

Available March 1st
The Descent (2006)
The Descent: Part 2 (2010)
Lady In a Cage (1964)
Night of the Living Dead (2007)
Night of the Living Dead: Ressurection (2013)
Silent Tongue (1993)

Available March 6th
Knives and Skin (2019)

Available March 19th
Pet Sematary (2019)


Criterion Channel

Available March 19th
Caniba (2017)

Available March 22nd
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
The Golem (1920)
Destiny (1921)
Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (1922)
Nosferattu (1922)
Hands of Orlac (1924)
M (1931)
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933)

Available March 29th
Repulsion (1965)
The Hunger (1983)


Amazon Prime

Available March 1st
Lady In a Cage (1964)
Night of the Living Dead (2007)
Night of the Living Dead: Ressurection (2013)
Silent Tongue (1993)
The Crazies (2010)
The Descent (2006)
The Descent: Part 2 (2010)

Available March 19th
Pet Semetary (2019)

Available March 21st
I See You (2019)


Shudder

Available March 2
Replace (2016)

Ginger Snaps (2000)

Available March 5th

The Dead Lands (2020) – Original Series; Season Finale

Available March 9th
Luciferina (2018)
Frankenstein (2015)

Available March 12th

The Room (2019) – Shudder Original

Available March 16th
Red Christmas (2016)
Howl (2015)

Available March 19th
Satanic Panic (2019) – Shudder Original

Available March 23
Some Kind of Hate (2015)
Housewife (2017)

Available March 26th
Daniel Isn’t Real (2019) – Shudder Exclusive


On Their Way Out: Horror Streaming Titles Expiring Soon

These films have one foot in the grave—bump ‘em to the top of your queue while you can!

Netflix

Leaving March 14th
Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection 3 (1993)

Leaving March 14th
Coraline (2009)

Leaving March 30th
Paranormal Activity (2007)


Hulu

Leaving March 31st
Bug (2006)
Dracula 3000 (2004)
Jigsaw (2017)
Mimic (1997)


Criterion Channel

Leaving March 31st
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
The Old Dark House (1932)

(Senior contributor)

Three toddlers in a trenchcoat. Currently running The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope.