The list of new arrivals to Shudder for April 2020 is below, but first, I’m going to celebrate five films currently available on the world’s best horror streaming service. I’ve previously highlighted some great horror/comedies there as well some some fun horror flicks from the 80s, but sometimes it’s not laughs and zaniness you want. Sometimes you want horror that’s actually gut-wrenching, and Shudder has you covered there too.
To that end, I’ve looked through Shudder’s complete offerings and found five movies that are dark, devastating affairs guaranteed to satisfy those looking for grim thrills and confirmation that sometimes horror hits harder than nearly anything else. Even better? They’re also fantastic films… for those who can stomach the unrelenting bleakness.
Serial killer films, slashers, are an ubiquitous sub-genre in horror, and they come in an impressive variety of styles, effectiveness, locales, tones, and more. Most, though, are aiming to be fun and entertaining with some blend of plucky hero, cool killer, and fun set-pieces. Angst is something special as its primary goal — one it achieves — is to be as disturbing as possible. The killer is deranged and upsetting and never fun or cool. The set-pieces are unrelenting and suspenseful but never flashy. It’s beautifully shot, but it’s ugly as hell. It’s also unforgettable.
In a Glass Cage (1986)
Of the five movies on this short list, this ruthless tale from Spain is the hardest to love. It’s about a Nazi doctor prone to acts of evil and vileness who leaps to his death after violating yet another teenage boy. He survives, and years later a young man who witnessed his acts of barbarism returns in the guise of a nurse. Things get nasty, and not quite in the way most viewers will be expecting. It’s a film filled with misery, but it’s presented with an honesty and a surprising pathos that leaves it lingering in your head long after the credits end.
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002)
The best known entry in Park Chan-wook’s so-called “revenge trilogy” is Oldboy (2003), while arguably the best of the trilogy period is Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005). Both films portray revenge through an extremely stylish and memorable lens, but what their predecessor lacks in creative visuals it more than makes up for in raw power. The film focuses on a young man named Ryu who’s both deaf and recently unemployed who turns to crime in the hopes of helping his dying sister secure a much-needed kidney transplant. Things turn ugly quick leading to an escalating series of bloody consequences.
The Horseman (2008)
It’s not often that I find myself doing a near 180 degree turn with my opinion on a film, but it happens. This Australian revenge/thriller is one such example as its unrelentingly grim approach to one father’s mission of vengeance left me cold and angry on first viewing. A re-watch, though, confirms that the darkness is exactly what this particular tale needs. Not every revenge tale needs to be a cathartic success story — and that’s not to say he fails exactly either. Grab a hard drink, tune out the distractions, and give this blast of pain a spin.
The Treatment (2014)
Mo Hayder writes dark thrillers about dogged cops and twisted killers, but sadly only one of them has been adapted for the screen so far. Happily, though, the results are absolutely stellar. The film follows a cop investigating the disappearance of a boy, and while the detective’s own past winds through the tale as well it’s the present day case — and its jaw-dropping, gut-wrenching denouement — that makes this an all-timer. It’s a slow burn of sorts, but if you give it your time and attention you’ll be rewarded with some beautifully crafted misery.
Here’s what’s new to Shudder for May 2020:
ANGST (1983; Directed by Gerald Kargl)
When a psychopath is released from prison, he hunts for fresh victims to torture and kill. Ahead-of-his-time-director Gerald Kargl’s little-known study of a sadist at work is unrelenting in its depiction of depravity, anticipating HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, MAN BITES DOG and — thanks to Zbigniew Rybczyński’s disorienting camerawork — Gaspar Noe’s twisted films. Starring Erwin Leder, Robert Hunger-Buhler, Silvia Rabenreither. (Also available on Shudder Canada)
BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON (2006; Directed by Scott Glosserman)
In this clever mockumentary, a camera crew follows an aspiring slasher movie killer as he prepares to slaughter a group of teens. Leslie Vernon always dreamed of joining the ranks of Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger. But if he wants to become the next great psycho slasher, he’s got lots of preparation to do. Starring Robert Englund, Angela Goethals, Nathan Baesel, Kane Hodder. (Also available on Shudder Canada and Shudder UK)
THE LAST DRIVE-IN WITH JOE BOB BRIGGS, ep. 202
Proving once again that “the drive-in will never die,” iconic horror host and exploitation movie aficionado Joe Bob Briggs is back with an all-new season of weekly Friday night double features streaming live exclusively on Shudder. Over the course of ten episodes, The Last Drive-In series will offer an eclectic selection of movies running the gamut from horror classics to obscurities and foreign cult favorites along with the occasional surprise guest. A Shudder Original Series. Also on Shudder Canada; some episodes also available on demand on Shudder UK.
SATAN’S SLAVE (1982; Directed by Sisworo Gautama Putra)
While mourning the death of his mother, a troubled teen discovers a nightmare world of restless spirits, supernatural vengeance and occult terror. Starring Ruth Pelupessy, W.D. Mochtar. (Also available on Shudder Canada) Note: Joko Anwar’s 2018 Shudder Original SATAN’S SLAVES is a remake/prequel to this influential 1980 Indonesian horror classic.
THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH (1971; Directed by Sergio Martino)
An unfaithful diplomat’s wife finds herself hunted by a razor-wielding sex maniac while simultaneously haunted by her own depraved desires. Starring Edwige Fenech, George Hilton and Alberto de Mendoza. (Also available on Shudder Canada)
CRAVE (2012; Directed by Charles de Lauzirika)
Aiden craves a meaningful life where he can escape the hard streets of Detroit, fall in love with the perfect woman and save the world from evil. As his dark imagination starts to leak into reality, he meets a younger woman with her own dilemmas and desires. Estranged from her boyfriend, she explores an uncertain relationship with Aiden, who becomes increasingly emboldened to live out his vigilante fantasies. Starring Josh Lawson, Emma Lung, Edward Furlong, Ron Perlman.
THE DYBBUK (1960; Directed by Sidney Lumet)
The 1960 television adaptation of Sholom Ansky’s play about a woman possessed by a demon of mythical Jewish folklore. Starring Carol Lawrence, Theodore Bikel, Ludwig Donath, Vincent Gardenia
TENEBRAE (1982; Directed by Dario Argento)
When acclaimed New York crime writer Peter Neal flies to Rome to promote his latest novel, Tenebrae, his publicity tour is cut short by a series of murders that come straight out of the pages of his book. In order to solve the mystery, they will need to look to Neal’s novel to find out who is the real killer before the killer finds them. TENEBRAE is based on director Dario Argento’s own experiences with an obsessed fan. Starring Anthony Franciosa, Giuliano Gemma, John Saxon. (Also available on Shudder Canada and Shudder UK)
Z (2019; Directed by Brandon Christensen)
Winner “Scariest Film” – Popcorn Frights
Audience Award Winner – Calgary International Film Festival
A couple is shaken to the core when their eight-year-old son begins hanging out with a creepy and ominous imaginary friend. Starring Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel), Sean Rogerson (Grave Encounters), Jett Klyne (The Boy), Sara Canning (The Vampire Diaries) and Stephen McHattie (Pontypool), Written by Brandon Christensen (Still/Born) and Colin Minihan (Urban Legend, Spiral) and directed by Brandon Christensen. A SHUDDER ORIGINAL (Also available on Shudder Canada and Shudder UK)
THE LAST DRIVE-IN WITH JOE BOB BRIGGS, ep. 203
DEVIL’S MILE (2014; Directed by Joseph O’Brien)
A gang of ex-convicts take a dangerous and ill-advised detour after brutally kidnapping two young girls. As the captors speed away, events quickly turn out to be much more dangerous and sinister than they could have ever imagined. Starring David Hayter, Amanda Joy, Maria del Mar.
HELLRAISER (1987; Directed by Clive Barker)
A puzzle box reveals a realm of sadistic monsters who torture Frank, the depraved man who unlocks it. Escaping their wrath, what remains of Frank hides out in his attic until a chance encounter leads him to enlist his brother’s wife, with whom he had a passionate affair, to lure victims home so he can feed off their blood. Starring Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence (Also available on Shudder Canada)
HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II (1988; Directed by Tony Randel)
In the sequel to HELLRAISER, an occult-obsessed doctor calls forth the Cenobites. After the events of the first film, Kirsty is brought to a psych ward where no one believes her story. No one, of course, except Dr. Channard, who resurrects Julia so she can take him to the Cenobites. But when the gates open, Kirsty’s also drawn into the labyrinthine hellscape where horrors wait around every turn. Starring Doug Bradley, Ashley Laurence, Clare Higgins (Also available on Shudder Canada)
PARASOMNIA (2008; Directed by William Malone)
Unable to wake due to a rare sleep disorder, Laura resides in a psychiatric hospital. When a manipulative serial killer begins to take a sinister interest, a student attempts to save the “sleeping beauty” from falling into the murderer’s clutches. Starring Jeffrey Combs, Timothy Bottoms, Sean Young, Patrick Kilpatrick, Dylan Purcell
MONSTRUM (2018; Directed by Huh Jong-jo)
Audience Award Winner — Sitges International Film Festival
It’s the 16th Century. The plague has taken over and fear runs rampant in the streets. When rumors of a vicious beast roaming Mount Inwangsan—called “Monstrum” by terrified masses—begin to spread, fear turns into panic. In order to quell the rising panic, King Jungjong brings his most trusted general, Yoon-gyeom, back from retirement. Joined by his daughter Myeong, his right-hand man Seong-han, and royal court officer Heo, Yoon-gyeom sets out to find the mysterious creature. Is the creature, Monstrum, real? Or a figment of the fearful mass’ imagination? Will the people ever live in peace again? Starring Woo-sik Choi (Parasite, Train to Busan), In-kwon Kim, Myung-Min Kim and Hyeri Lee, written by Heo-dam and Jong-ho Huh, and directed by Jong-Jo Huh. A SHUDDER ORIGINAL (Also available on Shudder Canada and Shudder UK)
THE LAST DRIVE-IN WITH JOE BOB BRIGGS, ep. 204
THE DIRTIES (2013; Directed by Matt Johnson)
Two best friends are filming a comedy about getting revenge on the bullies at their high school. One of them isn’t joking. Starring Matt Johnson, Owen Williams, Padraig Singal
GOODNIGHT MOMMY (2014; Directed by Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz)
9-year-old twin brothers await their mother’s return home. When she comes home, bandaged after cosmetic surgery, nothing is like before and the children start to doubt whether this woman is actually who she says she is. Starring Susanne Wuest, Lukas Schwarz, Elias Schwarz, Hans Escher
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (1997; Directed by Jim Gillespie)
In this late 90s slasher gem, four friends cause a terrible accident killing a pedestrian. Scared and confused, they come to an uneasy decision to push the body off a pier. The four swear to take the secret to their graves, but that time may come a lot sooner than they think: A clever and vicious tormentor knows their secret and intends to make them pay for it. Starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillipe, Freddie Prinze Jr, Bridgette Wilson
BLOOD MACHINES (2019; Directed by Seth Ickerman)
Winner Best Music, Best Sound Design & Best CG FX — Toronto After Dark Film Festival
Two space hunters are tracking down a machine trying to free itself. After taking it down, they witness a mystical phenomenon: the ghost of a young woman pulls itself out of the machine, as if the spaceship had a soul. Trying to understand the nature of this entity, they start chasing the woman through space. Inspired by the spirit of the 80’s films and music, BLOOD MACHINES is a 50-minute, 3-part sci-fi horror mind melter told in three chapters, scored by the synthwave artist Carpenter Brut. Starring Elisa Lasowski, Anders Heinrichsen and Noémie Stevens, written and directed by Seth Ickerman. A SHUDDER ORIGINAL EXPERIENCE (Also available on Shudder Canada and Shudder UK)
THE LAST DRIVE-IN WITH JOE BOB BRIGGS, ep. 205
TURBO KID (2015; Directed by RKSS)
In a post-apocalyptic future, a young solitary scavenger obsessed with comic books must face his fears and become a reluctant hero when he meets a mysterious girl. Starring Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside.
CONFESSIONAL (2019; Directed by Brad T. Gottfred)
After two mysterious deaths at a college on the same night, seven students are blackmailed into revealing what they know inside a hidden confession booth. Their confessions unveil the truth—not just about the deaths, but about the confessional as well. Starring Marcus Scribner (Black-ish), Paris Berelc (Alexa & Katie), Vanessa Marano (The Dead Girls Detective Agency), Lucas Adams (Days of our Lives), Annalisa Cochrane (Cobra Kai), Jess Gabor (Shameless), Brandon Larracuente (Party of Five), Jake Short (A.N.T Farm) and Mia Xitlali (La Quinceañera). Written by Jennifer Wolfe and directed by Brad T. Gottfred. A Shudder Exclusive (Also available on Shudder Canada and Shudder UK)
THE LAST DRIVE-IN WITH JOE BOB BRIGGS, ep. 205