It's officially summertime for some of us in the world, and currently heating up where I'm at in New York City. Sounds to me like it's time to crank up the A/C, grab a cold drink and put on a horror movie!
These are likely - and hopefully - films you haven't seen before, but they're all available on Prime (at least, while I was making this post). Why choose Prime over Netflix? While Netflix may be more popular than Prime, the selection for horror is not as large or varied. Prime has a shit ton of old movies, indie movies, and classics. To narrow down their insane collection, for the purposes of this post I focused on films that were good for a ~summer vibe. I interpreted this liberally and not always in an obvious way - these films fit my list because they either take place at a body of water or in the outdoors, or while the characters are on vacation.
Fair warning, I enjoy quite a bit of the "so bad it's good" kind of horror movie. Prime has many, many bad horror movies. Bad horror can be good! Not saying these are all "bad", but there is a nice helping of the ridiculous here. Hopefully there is something for everyone on this list!
Director: Isaac Gabaeff
Stars: Brooke Butler, Meagan Holder, Cleo Berry, Dean Guyer, Cynthia Murrell, and Mitchell Musso
It feels appropriate to kick off this list with a ridiculous, but actually kind of good, horror movie about hungover and unlucky beach goers fighting against a carnivorous sand monster who's on the attack. While partying, the group of friends discover some sort of gigantic egg on the beach - but are too busy getting wasted to really think about it. The next morning, a small group wakes and realizes something's wrong when one of them steps onto the sand, only to meet her death. Oh, this must be why everyone else from the party is gone - presumably, the sand monsters ate them during the night! The survivors must figure out not only how to stay alive, but also how to get off the beach. A few are trapped in their car, two are in a lifeguard house, and one wakes up in a trash can. Can they do it? As far as b-movie creature features go, this actually had some decent acting. Of course, most of the special effects were laughably bad, but no one watches these kinds of movies and expects to be blown away by that sort of thing. Personally, I enjoyed it because it delivered exactly what I wanted in a beach horror.
First House on the Hill
Director: Matteo Saradini
Stars: Christine Scherer, Chloe Farnworth, Kristian Messere, Umberto Celisano
Let's switch it up and go from sunburned beach horror to horror confined indoors. For Valerie and her three friends, their weekend in Malibu has just become hell. After a night of partying at their house rental, the friends discover a dead housemaid's murdered body. Trapped inside the house, they do what anyone else would do in the situation - turn to a tarot card deck for help, and that's when things get spooky. Fans of artsy horror like Dario Argento's Suspiria will enjoy the film's dreamy cinematography, colorful lighting and synth soundtrack - as long as they can set aside the irrational behavior of the protagonists that gets the plot moving.
Director: Vincent Orst
Stars: Olivier Martial, Tony Zarouel, Tella Kpomahou, Lola S. Frey
Contaminated tap water creates an infected population in this French zombie film. Le Périple (The Trip) wastes almost no time getting into the action: We see our first zombie almost exactly at the ten minute mark, when our main character, Salah (played by the sexy Tony Zarouel), is on foot and in a deserted town. Saved by a good Samaritan, Salah joins a small group of survivors in a chalet. However, it doesn't remain a safe space for long, and Salah and the remaining members of the group take their fight for survival into the mountains. Not only do they have zombies to worry about, but there's also the non-infected who are armed and ready to kill anyone. If you've been wanting a new survival movie to watch, this well-done indie film may be your thing.
Mega-Shark vs. Crocosaurs
Director: Christopher Rey
Stars: Jaleel White, Gary Stretch, Sarah Lieving
To go from the well-made Le Périple to this nonsense seems almost criminal, but we gotta vary it up a bit. Yes, the graphics are bad, and yes, the plot is totally implausible, BUT THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT FUN. If you disagree, then clearly this is not the kind of movie for you so just skip to the next one in the list. Anyway, we had our adventure with sand monsters in The Sand, but it's not summer without a movie where gigantic animals wreak havoc on both land and water. Crocosaurus emerges from an illegal diamond mine in the Republic of the Congo while the Megalodon destroys its way through the Atlantic, starting with a US Navy Worship where Lt. Terry McCormick (Jaleel White - yes, that's Steve Urkel!) is working. Mega-Shark meets his match with Crocosaurus in this battle to the death, which is actually - of course - a sequel to Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus. If you're looking for something to get you in the mood for the upcoming summer release Meg (also about the megalodon shark), then this Asylum classic could be just your thing.
Director: Isaac Cravit
Stars: Annie Clark, Daniel Kash, Richard Clarkin
No, this isn't that Solo. This Canadian horror film is about a young woman, Gillian, who becomes a camp counselor for the summer. The thing is, to prove herself as a counselor, she has to camp solo on a small island for two nights. The other camp counselors believe the island to be haunted. Soon after her arrival, things get creepy and tense, and Gillian discovers she's not alone.
For a horror debut, the film is quite good with solid acting from Annie Clark as Gillian and well-composed shots. While I don't think seasoned horror fans would be surprised at the plot points, watch this one if you're up for a flick with a small cast confined to one location.
Across the River
Director: Lorenzo Bianchini
Stars: Renzo Gariup, Marco Marchese, Lidia Zabrieszach
Let's get seriously spooky with this Italian-Slovenian artsy, psychological horror. Ethologist Marco Contrada is performing his wildlife census operations in the remote wilderness on the Slovenian border when he spots a white dress floating down a stream - extremely odd, considering he's totally isolated in the forest. After trapping a fox and mounting a camera on the animal, he goes to his RV to watch the live footage. Contrada sees the fox enter an abandoned village, and the next day, decides to seek out the strange (and, unbeknownst to him, cursed) place, which lies across a flooding river. Ironically, it is now him who becomes trapped, and the audience is helplessly watching things go from creepy to what the hell just happened.
If you need constant gore and/or jump-scares then this isn't for you, but if you are intrigued by what I could call "Atmospheric Italian folk horror meets David Lynch" then turn up the sound, shut off the lights and prepare to be fucked with. This may be my favorite from the list...
Director: Christopher Phelps and Maxim Van Scoy
Stars: Wray Villanova, Laura Hajek, Charles Gaskins.
Retro horror fans rejoice, this throwback to 70s and 80s slasher horror is maybe just what you need to get your summer started. Bonnie and her group of friends head to a cabin in the woods to party, but of course they're not alone: A masked killer is stalking them. Horror fans who are old enough to recall the days of bootleg, scratchy VHS tapes will enjoy the film's opening of fake commercials and trailers leading into the feature. The filmmakers didn't simply slap on a vintage filter using iMovie; Lake Nowhere truly feels like you're watching something that was recorded off the TV in all of its grainy, vertical tape rolls glory. But aside from the nostalgia factor, the movie itself is a fun, cheesy, and gory ride. If you're a fan of slashers you know exactly what to expect, and it's delivered - and with a pretty good ending. Plus, it's only 50 minutes long, so you can pair with another movie on this list for a double feature!
Director: Dan Riesser
Stars: John Bobeck, Tarah DeSpain, Jeramy Blackford, Justin Giddings
If you hate summer and can't wait for fall, here's a film to put you in that autumnal mood. Annie and Ben, a couple from Chicago, visit Annie's home of North Carolina for the Thanksgiving holiday. While there, Annie's childhood obsession with hunting Bigfoot is revealed to Ben. Annie's ex, Paul (who is clearly still into her), and their friend Jed decide to take Ben out Bigfoot - or, Boojum as they call him - hunting.
It's almost a little bit of cheating to include this on this list, as this is not so much horror as it is about two people whose relationship may or may not last the film. I thought the acting was realistic and the characters felt authentic, so much so that I absolutely loathed Paul. If you want to watch a fun relationship drama that just happens to have a cryptozooligical bent and a touch of gore to it, this is your movie.
Director: Tobe Hooper
Stars: Mark McLachlan, Caitlin Martin, Chris Solari
Brady and his annoying group of friends - and one adorable dog named Princess - are partying at Lake Sobek in southern California. Brady's friends are jerks who don't respect his relationship with Claire, but Brady is also a jerk who doesn't respect his own relationship with Claire - he cheated on her with Sunny. I guess this romantic nonsense is there to help us care about the characters, but if you're like me, you'll be rooting for the crocodile the entire time. After all, the humans were the ones fucking with her eggs, and it's payback time.
The crocodile herself is shown in just the right amounts and her attacks are hilariously gory. It's no Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but it IS Tobe Hooper. There are some nice touches that recall his most famous film. Crocodile is stupid good fun. (Also: And after I watched this, I had a bad dream about a big crocodile trying to kill me in the desert - so it's pretty funny that this is the only movie on this list to give me nightmares!)
Director: Sonny Laguna, Tommy Wiklund
Stars: Patrik Berg-Almkvisth, Lisa Henni, Patrick Saxe
Imagine Tyra Banks saying "The Evil Dead... but make it Swedish." That's what this movie is, although it's not a remake. More like a homage: A group of friends travel to a cabin for a weekend and unfortunately for them, there's evil lurking in the basement.
This is for the horror fans who want gore! You want gore? This movie has it. While there's not much in terms of substance, Wither has some pretty good special effects. Don't get too attached to any of the characters... this is definitely a bleak film.
Director: Greydon Clark
Stars: George Kennedy, Alex Cord, Toni Hudson, Clare Carey
From demonic house guests to demonic house cats...
The orange tabby may look innocent, but she's got the devil inside her! Kitty cat escaped from an evil lab to end up on some rich asshole's yacht. Ordinarily I don't like seeing animals in film, but the cat is fat, fluffy, and just about the cutest villain of all time. All these corrupt men in the movie have GOT to go and this cat is taking em down one by one.
me when the cat is killing all the men
Uninvited has the absolute worst special effects out of any movie in this post, but it also gives us this iconic shot of the demon rising up in between bottles of alcohol as it's getting shot at, so... Also, every time the cat was seen and heard crying, but never moving its mouth, I died laughing. And did I mention how FLUFFY this damn cat is?! WATCH THE MOVIE FOR THE CAT!!!
Director: Derek Lee and Clif Prowse
Stars: Derek Lee, Clif Prowse
Derek Lee and Clif Prowse both wrote, directed and starred in this Canadian found-footage gem. The two friends are about to embark on a crazy year-long trip around the world, video blogging the entire adventure. Of course, this is a horror movie so their trip doesn't go as planned. :)
Personally, I'm a fan of the found-footage subgenre, and Afflicted is one of the better ones I've seen. The story moves at a great pace and the horror kicks in quickly, giving the audience just enough time to get to know and care about the characters. Thanks to the excellent special effects, many moments in the film had me gasping. The acting was excellent as well. If you're not a fan of the shaky cam motif in found footage, know that this movie has some fairly stable photography throughout. I'm honestly so pleased by this film, but also a bit annoyed that like none of my horror friends told me about it before?! WTF???
Director: Richard Cranor
Stars: Julian Gavilanes, Tyler Trerise, Shelby Truax
And finally, we have come to the end. Did I save the best for last?
James, just back from Afghanistan and suffering from PTSD, is visiting his stoner best friend Tim, and Tim's girlfriend Martha. They take James on a trip to find the star leaf - a pot plant that's "not of this world... It is not of this earth!" DUDE MEANS THAT LITERALLY: Star Leaf was in fact brought to earth by aliens. James, Tim, and Martha head into the pot forest to camp and smoke, and while there must not disrespect the aliens by breaking any of the rules. But because this is a movie, the characters do something to get the aliens mad...
This movie actually isn't as terrible as you may expect, despite the ridiculous as hell premise. Why watch it? Fuck it, it's summer 2018, we're in the darkest timeline, and this movie is... something. Is it good, though? Hmm, good enough. It's definitely hilarious at times - it's meant to be funny - and although has some serious themes doesn't really take itself TOO seriously. Is it horror? Nah, not really. It's a sci-fi "thriller" (although very light on the "thrills") but I'm putting it on this list anyway. I welcome our alien overlords TBH!
Special thanks to zyuranger for letting me know about some of these movies on prime!
SOURCES: Images, cast & crew info: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 / All text written by me