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 typically pick five based on a sub-genre, but this month I’ve found myself with a hankering for comfort horrors — movies I love that deliver dark thrills wrapped up in personality, fun, and a lack of seriousness. So, not comedies, per se, but fun horrors all the same. To that end, the best decade for such wonders remains the 80s.
Look, I love grim, mean-spirited, serious horror just as much as the next weirdo, but the 80s moved as a decade towards more purely entertaining horror fare, and the results speak for themselves. From the Friday the 13th films to Re-Animator (1985) to Bad Taste (1987) to An American Werewolf in London (1981) and so on, 80s horror found numerous ways to blend horror chills with fun thrills. So let’s take a look at some less popular examples that are currently available to stream on Shudder!
Bloody Birthday (1981)
Killer kids aren’t typically as entertaining as kids getting killed in horror movies, but this early 80s gem from co-writer/director Ed Hunt (The Brain, 1988) is a blast filled with misbehaving brats and gory deaths. The setup is genius — three babies born during an eclipse turn homicidal ten years later. That’s it, and it’s glorious. They start offing folks with guns, bats, jump ropes, arrows, and more, and while they don’t get the comeuppance I would have liked the movie still delivers some ridiculous fun.
Dead & Buried (1981)
Potters Bluff is a beautiful little coastal community that welcomes visitors with open arms — the better to murder them with! As the sheriff investigates a serious of bizarre and brutal deaths, the town’s secrets begin to come to light, and the results are immensely entertaining thanks to a sharp script co-written by Dan O’Bannon (Return of the Living Dead, 1985) and direction by Gary Sherman (Raw Meat, 1972). James Farentino anchors it as the sheriff, but the surreal nature of the horror escalates with Jack Albertson as the town’s peppy mortician.
Hell Night (1981)
Ask anyone for their favorite Linda Blair horror film and odds are they reply with The Exorcist (1973), but while that film has its merits her real highlight remains this early 80s gem about college kids spending the night in a creepy, not quite abandoned mansion. We get pranks, shenanigans, a sense of humor, a fun performance by a Van Patten, and two terrifically creepy sequences — one involving a rising carpet and the other set in a tunnel. It’s pretty great, and Blair kills it as the film’s “final girl.”
Ugh, theater kids, amirite? Well happily this Italian gem about a group of stage actors who spend the night in an old theater in the hopes of nailing down their rehearsals doesn’t bode well for them at all. Why? Because a psycho in an owl-head has joined them for a night of bloody shenanigans. Director Michele Soavi (Cemetery Man, 1994) delivers a stylish slasher making great use of the theater staging and designs, and while it’s far from gory the bloodletting, suspense, and set-pieces work to create something beautiful.
While the other four films here are far more direct in their horrors, this delightfully weird and exciting slasher from the Netherlands is probably more of a thriller when you get right down to it. The legendary Dick Maas writes/directs this Amsterdam-set gem pitting a tough detective against a wily serial killer who’s using the city’s canals to sneak around the city. A SCUBA certified psychopath? Hell yes. As usual, Maas injects his genre thrills with action beats and black comedy too making for a must see import.
Here’s what’s new to Shudder for April 2020:
THE FRIDAY THE 13TH COLLECTION
Jason takes Shudder as we present the first eight films in one of the most beloved and successful franchises in horror history. If that’s not enough, go behind the scenes with documentaries Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th and Smoke and Mirrors: The Story of Tom Savini. Ki ki ki, ma ma ma… Featuring Friday the 13th, Part 2, Part III, The Final Chapter, A New Beginning, Part VI: Jason Lives, Part VII: The New Blood, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th, Smoke and Mirrors: The Story of Tom Savini and To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story (April 27)
THE EXORCIST (Director: William Friedkin)
When a charming 12-year-old girl takes on the characteristics and voices of others, doctors say there is nothing they can do. As people begin to die, the girl’s mother realizes her daughter has been possessed by the devil—and that her daughter’s only possible hope lies with two priests and the ancient rite of demonic exorcism. One of the best and most influential horror movies ever made. Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair, Jason Miller
CURSED FILMS: EP.1 ‘THE EXORCIST’
Cursed Films is a five-part documentary series from writer/director Jay Cheel (How to Build a Time Machine) exploring the myths and legends behind some of Hollywood’s notoriously “cursed” horror film productions. From plane accidents and bombings during the making of The Omen, to the rumored use of real human skeletons on the set of Poltergeist, these stories are legendary … but what’s real and what’s myth? Cursed Films recounts the horrifying events that haunted these productions through interviews with experts, witnesses and the cast, directors and producers who lived through them, including Richard Donner, Linda Blair, Michael Berryman, Lloyd Kaufman, Kane Hodder, Gary Sherman, Eileen Dietz, Mitch Horowitz. Were these films really cursed, as many believe, or just the victims of bad luck and bizarre circumstances? A Shudder Original Series. Also available on Shudder Canada and Shudder UK.
HAUNTERS: THE ART OF THE SCARE (Director: Jon Schnitzer)
Explore the rise of terror as entertainment by going behind-the-screams and into the lives of Shar Mayer, legendary scare actor, Donald Julson, a traditional boo-scare maze designer, and the infamous Russ McKamey, as he creates the most controversial full-contact haunt of all time in this documentary about how family-friendly haunted houses for Halloween have spawned a growing subculture of extreme horror simulation. With Jason Blum, McKenzie Westmore, the Soska Sisters, Slash (Also available on Shudder Canada)
TALES OF HALLOWEEN (Directors: Darren Lynn Bousman, Axelle Carolyn, Adam Gierasch, Andrew Kasch, Neil Marshall, Lucky McKee, Mike Mendez, Dave Parker, Ryan Schifrin, John Skipp, and Paul Solet)
This critically acclaimed anthology weaves together ten chilling tales from top horror directors. Featuring Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Lin Shaye (Insidious), John Savage (The Deer Hunter), Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog), Joe Dante (Director of Gremlins), Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, We Are Still Here), Pat Healy (Cheap Thrills), Caroline Williams (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2), Kristina Klebe (Rob Zombie’s Halloween), Alex Essoe (Starry Eyes), Pollyanna McIntosh (The Woman) and more.
CURSED FILMS: EP.2 ‘THE OMEN’
CURSED FILMS: EP.3 ‘POLTERGEIST’
ABSENTIA (Director: Mike Flanagan)
As Tricia prepares to declare Daniel legally dead, she encounters a mysterious tunnel and a terrified man inside. Soon after, Daniel returns, shaken and bloodied—and scared to death of the tunnel. What happened, and what secrets does the tunnel hold? From Mike Flanagan, the director of Doctor Sleep and The Haunting of Hill House. Starring: Katie Parker, Katie Bell, Dave Levine
ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK (Director: Phil Rubenstein)
Upon arriving in a small town where she has inherited a rundown mansion, the famous horror hostess must battle her evil uncle and townspeople who want her burned at the stake. Starring: Cassandra Peterson, Phil Rubenstein, Larry Flash Jenkins (Also available on Shudder Canada)
WE ARE WHAT WE ARE (Director: Jim Mickle)
The Parkers seem to be a wholesome family but when tragedy strikes and sisters Iris and Rose are forced to assume terrifying responsibilities, the local authorities begin to uncover clues to a horrible truth that the Parkers have hidden for years. Starring Michael Parks, Kelly McGillis and Julia Garner.
CURSED FILMS: EP.4 ‘THE CROW’
CURSED FILMS: EP.3 ‘TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE’
EXTREMITY (Director: Anthony DiBlasi)
Allison is an emotionally troubled young woman who believes that confronting her past trauma might be a means of exercising her demons. She signs up for a trip to Perdition, an exclusive haunt that promises absolute, unadulterated terror, but the most frightening thing on display will prove to be Allison’s own twisted psyche. Starring: Chad Rook, Dana Christina, J. LaRose
VOICE FROM THE STONE (Director: Eric D. Howell)
A haunting thriller set at an isolated castle in 1950s Tuscany. Verena (Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke) is a determined young nurse who is hired to help the mute young heir within. But the more she observes him, the more Verena becomes convinced he has fallen under the spell of a powerful and otherworldly persona trapped in the villa’s stone walls, one that seems to be rapidly entwining with her own. Starring: Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), Marton Csokas, Caterina Murino
Members of a paranormal exploration club go to an abandoned house in the remote small town to prove the existence of a ghost using radio frequency-based technology. Unfortunately, the young students unwittingly become the ghost’s host… Starring Yoon-young Choi, Shin Joo-Hwan, Eun-ji Jung (of the K-pop group Apink) , directed by Sun-Dong Yoo. A SHUDDER ORIGINAL (Also available on Shudder Canada and Shudder UK)
THE LAST DRIVE-IN WITH JOE BOB BRIGGS 9pm ET season premiere
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.
THE SIREN (Director: Perry Blackshear)
Tom rents a cabin on a secluded lake marked by a local legend of a lovelorn spirit who haunts the surrounding woods and drowns anyone she encounters. Drawn to her immediately, Tom knows he has found his soulmate in the seemingly human Nina, who must battle to repress her demonic instincts when she feels the same towards him. Starring: Margaret Ying Drake, MacLeod Andrews, Evan Dumouchel (Also available on Shudder Canada)
TO HELL AND BACK: THE KANE HODDER STORY (Director: Derek Dennis Herbert)
Overcoming a dehumanizing childhood and a near-death burn accident, Hodder worked his way up through Hollywood, leading to his ultimate rise as Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th series. After decades of watching Kane Hodder on screen, get ready to meet the man behind the mask in a gut-wrenching but inspiring story about one of cinema’s most vicious monsters. Starring: Kane Hodder, Bruce Campbell, Danielle Harris, Robert Englund, Cassandra Peterson
WOLF CREEK Season 2
In the second season of the hit horror series, a group of international tourists embark on the Outback adventure of a lifetime, but a chance encounter with trigger-happy pig hunter Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) sets them on a journey none of them could have imagined. With Tess Haubrich (Alien: Covenant), Matt Day (Rake), Ben Oxenbould (The Code), Laura Wheelwright (Animal Kingdom), Charlie Clausen (Home & Away) Stephen Hunter (The Leftovers) and Chris Haywood (Muriel’s Wedding). A Shudder Exclusive Series.