Welcome to Beat the Algorithm, a recurring column dedicated to providing you with relevant and diverse streaming recommendations based on your favorite movies. This time, we’re recommending movies like Lee Cronin’s Evil Dead Rise.
Will horror fans ever tire of characters reading aloud from obviously evil books? Not if the success of Lee Cronin’s Evil Dead Rise is anything to go by we won’t. Now where did I put that flesh-bound tome I found rotting under the freeway in a padlocked safe? I intend to blindly read it out loud. Probably in proximity to a cemetery.
The latest remake/prequel/reimagining in the reliably good Evil Dead franchise tells the story of two estranged sisters, Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) and Beth (Lily Sullivan), whose reunion takes a turn for the “oh god, is that a cheese-grater????” when a certain infamous piece of literature finds its way into wandering hands. A couple of incantations later and mama Ellie finds herself the latest vessel of unspeakable ancient demonic forces, leaving poor Beth responsible for her sister’s understandably terrified children, Danny (Morgan Davies), Bridget (Gabrielle Echols), and Kassie (Nell Fisher).
Whether you’re an old hat with the Evil Dead films or if Evil Dead Rise is your first foray into the deliciously deviant world of deadites and shotguns, you may be looking to scratch a similar itch. Below, we’ve assembled our top 12 recommendations for fans of Lee Cronin’s Evil Dead Rise, from motherly monsters to apartment-based zombie infestations. Read on. We promise this article won’t summon an evil demonic presence. Probably.
Shivers is the first film on this list directed by David Cronenberg — and it won’t be the last! No, the Canadian government isn’t forcing me to promote my country’s greatest genre export. I’m doing this of my own free will. Or maybe it’s the parasitic sex slug talking. Wait, what?
Cronenberg’s third narrative feature sees a Montréal apartment complex overrun by genetically-engineered phallic invertebrates that, given the chance, transform their unwilling hosts into violent sex-crazed maniacs. Can you hear that? Freud is popping wheelies in his coffin as we speak. Starring genre greats Joe Silver and Barbara Steele, Shivers‘ would-be orgiastic depravity is far too existentially morose and tonally self-assured to be dismissed as outright sleaze (though many a contemporary critic did just that).
Today, Shivers enjoys a reputation as a staple of the horror genre and the funniest thing the Canadian government has ever done with taxpayer money. So, if you enjoyed seeing an infectious zombie-like disease rip its way through a locked-down apartment building in Evil Dead Rise, you really owe it to yourself to check out Shivers.
Available on The Roku Channel; Tubi; Popcornflix.
Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
Not all siege movies are horror movies. But I do think you could make a strong case that most siege films have an underlying horror heartbeat. There’s something fundamentally terrifying about being boxed in by forces that mean you harm. Most unambiguous horror films make full use of this, including the Evil Dead franchise, Army of Darkness excluded. And if you want to bask in more of that butt-clenching claustrophobia, you can’t go wrong with John Carpenter‘s Assault on Precinct 13.
A cascading series of events involving criminal tensions, prisoner transfers, and an ice cream truck result in an urban nightmare: a decommissioned police station besieged by a gang dead set on avenging one of their own. Not only does Assault on Precinct 13 share Evil Dead Rise‘s appreciation for a spine-tingling siege, it also says “fuck them kids.” Not that that’s something anyone would actively seek out let alone write an entire article about. Yeesh. Bad taste much?
Available on Tubi; Kanopy; Freevee.
The Brood (1979)
I’m pretty sure it’s a thought crime to discuss “moms in horror movies” without mentioning The Brood.
Conceived — pun intended — in the midst of David Cronenberg‘s sarcastically messy custody battle, the 1979 film follows Frank Carveth (Art Hindle), a loving father who begins to suspect that his estranged wife Nola (Samantha Eggar) is physically abusing their young daughter Candice (Cindy Hinds). Frank’s concerns escalate when the targets of Nola’s therapeutic rage begin turning up dead. Has Nola’s isolation at the Somafree Institute calcified into something literally dangerous? Has Dr. Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed) poisoned her mind or merely opened it to new possibilities?
Evil Dead Rise‘s gleeful mutation of motherhood into something violent and insidious appears in full force in The Brood, albeit with a lot less glee and a lot more straight-faced female fury. Then again, depending on your own relationship with motherhood, you may be in the mood for the full spectrum.
Available on HBO Max; The Criterion Channel; IndieFlix.
Is Intruder the most under-seen late 1980s slasher set in a grocery store? Yes. Did Intruder corner the [super]market on that niche? Also yes. Cleanup on aisle three. Some horny 20-something sprayed the contents of their femoral artery all over the Captain Crunch.
Written and directed by long-suffering fake Shemp Scott Spiegel, Intruder follows an overnight stock crew at a local supermarket who find themselves at the mercy of a deranged maniac hell-bent on putting the whole staff on ice. As the violent killing spree unfolds throughout the night, the young coworkers attempt to alert the apathetic police, escape the building, and uncover the identity of the mysterious murderer.
Evil Dead Rise features a lot of environmental kills, which is to say: creative murders that make use of whatever happens to be on hand, from wine glasses to cheese graters to narratively-convenient wood chippers. Intruder is cut from a similar cloth. But what sets it apart from other locationally-based slashers (e.g., Death Spa, Chopping Mall, etc.) is that Intruder stars both Sam and Ted Raimi. I’ll be at the check-out till if you need me.
Available on Tubi; Shudder; ARROW.
Dead Alive (1992)
The viscera-encrusted crown jewel of Peter Jackson‘s early career — and the second government-funded film on this list, by my count — Dead Alive a.k.a. Braindead puts the “fun” in “dysfunctional mother-son relationships.”
Shot like a telenovela that tripped and fell face0first down a slip-and-slide coated in bodily fluids, Dead Alive follows Lionel Cosgrove (Timothy Balme), the large adult son of the overbearing Vera (Elizabeth Moody). Lionel’s attempts to escape from under his mother’s gnarled thumb take a turn when his captor/parent is bitten by a Sumatran Rat-Monkey and turns into a zombie. Chaos ensues as the infection rips its way through Wellington — but damn it if Lionel isn’t going to find love along the way!
In case any of you have yet to delight in Jackson’s most outrageous contribution to the horror genre, I won’t spoil some of the finer details of why, exactly, Dead Alive and Evil Dead Rise share a family resemblance. These are just two movies about a mother’s enveloping love. Totally normal stuff. Why are you looking at me like that?
Available to rent on Amazon.
Rumor has it that if you say the words “apartment building” and “possession” a horror geek magically appears to tell you about how good [REC] is. In this instance, it’s me: I’m the horror geek. [REC] is very good.
Co-directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, [REC] follows a charismatic T.V. presenter named Ángela (played by real-life charismatic T.V. presenter Manuela Velasco), who is tailing a local fire department when a wellness check turns into a quarantine. A rabies-like infection — or something that looks like a rabies-like infection — is ripping through the apartment. Unable to escape, Ángela and the remaining survivors buckle down for what is easily the worst co-op meeting of all time.
Weaponizing the true power of found footage in a way that hasn’t been duplicated before or since, [REC] takes you along for the ride as Ángela unravels the true nature of the disease turning the apartment dwellers into homicidal maniacs.
Available on Prime Video.
Attack the Block (2011)
Straddling several genres at once, Joe Cornish‘s feature film debut follows a gaggle of inner-city kids forced to defend their South London apartment block from an alien invasion. Pushed into unlikely alliances — with a pot grower and a mugging victim among others — it’s up to the ruffians to outsmart their intergalactic foe and save their city. Balancing a delightful mix of gnarly gore and high-energy shenanigans, Attack the Block has a lot more in common with Evil Dead Rise than its high-rise setting.
Available on Prime Video; Paramount+; fuboTV.
The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014)
Sarah Logan’s mom hasn’t been herself lately. Alzheimer’s disease is rotting her mind, turning her into a shadow of her former self. In a last-ditch attempt to stop their home from being repossessed, Sarah agrees to let a documentary crew film her mother’s rapidly deteriorating condition. However, when Sarah’s dementia takes a horrifying turn, Sarah and the film crew begin to suspect (or maybe hope) that something more supernatural is going on.
While Evil Dead Rise doesn’t explicitly stick its fingers into similar metaphorical wounds, much of the film’s horror still hinges on the terrifying idea of your loved ones turning into strangers before your very eyes. If you’d like to see that idea executed with more of a straight face, Adam Robitel‘s strikingly polished feature film debut is well worth seeking out.
Available on Prime Video; Tubi; Shudder.
The Devil’s Candy (2015)
Blisteringly tense and atmospheric as all get out, The Devil’s Candy tells of a young family at war with a serial child killer … and maybe even Satan himself. While fiery visions creep into the patriarch’s art and buried secrets bubble up from the earth of the family’s new rural home, the couple’s only child finds herself the target of a hulking behemoth keen to keep “His voice” at bay.
Tasmanian director Sean Byrne‘s follow-up to The Loved Ones deserves a spot on this list for a number of reasons. For one thing, the two films lead the pack as far as realistic portrayals of “alternative” families are concerned. When they’re not being possessed by nefarious forces, these parents are supremely groovy, which is neat to see on-screen! Relatedly: both The Devil’s Candy and Evil Dead Rise know exactly how to twist the knife as far as putting kids in peril is concerned. It’s a fine line to walk. And one that both films do remarkably well.
Available on AMC+ Amazon Channel; Tubi; DIRECTV.
The Void (2016)
Created by the same maniacs behind Psycho Goreman, Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie‘s committed love letter to cosmic horror goes easy on “explaining what’s going on” in favor of good old-fashioned body horror. It’s what H.P. Lovecraft would’ve wanted. If you’re a fan of Society-like flesh piles and corporeal abominations, this is the film for you!
Scrappy, predominantly set in a single location, and certainly not for the faint of heart, The Void invites you to go with the flow of its Old God-summoning shenanigans. Did we mention that the magic of motherhood features prominently at one point? Bring your barf buckets.
Available on Tubi; Crackle; Plex.
May the Devil Take You (2018)
Written and directed by Timo Tjahjanto (the man behind the best segment in a V/H/S film), May the Devil Take You is a hoot, a holler, and as good of a reason as any to change your underwear.
The Malay-language film follows Alfie (Chelsea Islan), a young woman summoned to her estranged father’s bedside after he falls into a coma. When Alfie learns that her step-siblings and greedy step-mother plan on pilfering her family’s abandoned villa for valuables, she decides to tag along. One forbidding, sealed basement door later, and before you can say Klaatu barada nikto, a supernatural force begins possessing the family one by one.
An Evil Dead tribute with an Indonesian twist, May the Devil Take You makes no apologies about its horror influences and is all the better for it.
Available on Netflix.
As far as spiritual children of the Evil Dead franchise go, you’d be hard-pressed to find a greater contender than Deadstream, which picks up the supernatural-slapstick gauntlet while still very, very much doing its own thing.
Written and directed by husband-wife duo Joseph and Vanessa Winter, Deadstream sees perma-canceled online personality Shawn Ruddy (also played by Joseph) attempt to redeem himself the only way he knows how: by spending an entire night in a haunted house and live-streaming the whole thing. Things quickly go sideways when it turns out that the house is, in fact, actually haunted.
While Deadstream‘s cinematic inspirations are more wide-reaching than just the Evil Dead franchise, the shared giddy attitude towards gore and bodily harm will delight sickos with similar tastes.
Available on Shudder; AMC+ Amazon Channel; DIRECTV.