Now Scream This: The Best Spring Break Horror Movies Streaming Right Now

(Welcome to Now Scream This, a column where horror experts Chris Evangelista and Matt Donato tell you what scary, spooky, and spine-tingling movies are streaming and where you can watch them.)

Matt: In striving to become more theme-driven with our bimonthly streaming choices, Chris and I landed on a "Spring Break" concept for this first offering of May. Sorority girls in bikinis, slashers with a thirst for vacation-crashing, outdoor carnage – Horror 101 type stuff. You'd be correct to assume VOD platforms showcase no shortage of such horrors, and once again, my genre preferences provide a perfect complement/clash with Chris' reality escapes...with no escape. Start pouring the tequila and slathering on the suntan lotion. Let's gets sloppy.

Chris: SPRING BREAK!! Let's all party at the beach! And by "party at the beach", I mean, stay indoors and watch horror movies, just as god intended. There's a slight irony to this theme, since "spring" as a season doesn't really exist anymore – thanks, climate change! Still, the concept of Spring Break offers up the perfect opportunity for characters in films to attempt to get away from it all, only to die horrible deaths. So break out your mirrored sunglasses, pop open a cold one, and enjoy all the untimely death mentioned below. 

Club Dread

Now Streaming on HBOGo

Matt: Comin' out swinging, this week! First with a Broken Lizard slasher parody that I, myself, enjoy for all of its obvious stupidity and sex-crazed paradiso slaughtering. It's not exactly a five-star assessment of mythical genre rules – phones don't work, groups split up, trust corrodes – but Machete Phil's quest for bloodshed is on-the-nose satire in small doses (albeit desperately juvenile). Appreciate Bill Paxton for the Jimmy Buffett ripoff he plays (Coconut Pete) and the immature shenanigans Broken Lizard engages in (this is a horror comedy 100% built on sexual innuendos and nudity), but credit a third-act twist that goes incredibly Jack Torrance/Norman Bates/any other psychotic snap. When [redacted] springs upwards, turns mechanically towards frame and glares that devious madman smile... A perfect moment in an admittedly imperfect film, but that's what streaming is for.

Chris: Time for a controversial opinion: I actually prefer Club Dread to Broken Lizard's more well-renowned film Super Troopers. Perhaps it's the horror theme, or perhaps it's the late, great Bill Paxton stealing the show. But if I had to choose one Broken Lizard film to watch again and again, it would be Club Dread.

Bait 3D

Now Streaming on Shudder

Matt: Bait 3D is the greatest "trapped in a flooded supermarket with a 12-foot Great White shark right after a tsunami hits" disaster flick you can ask for. Coming from the genre-savvy shores of Australia, this Xavier Samuel/Sharni Vinson aquatic thriller wastes no time chomping into a meaty escape-or-be-killed adventure that's delightfully more Deep Blue Sea than Jaws. It's more Deep Blue Sea then Deep Blue Sea 2, in fact. Save the poorly constructed and completely underdeveloped romantics for the next Gerard Butler Geostorm dud and give me giant animatronic sharks eating people, right? Kimble Rendall is of the same mindset. There are shopping cart dive suits, shotguns, dismembered human chew toys – Bait 3D is an absolute blast with a brutal but entertaining bite.

Pretty much any shark movie can pass as Spring Break material. Stop thinking so singularly.

Chris: I haven't seen this, but I just read the official synopsis – "A freak tsunami traps a group of people in a submerged grocery store. As they try to escape, they are hunted by white sharks that are hungry for meat" – and that, plus Matt's write-up, has ensured I'll be watching Bait 3D immediately. I just hope there's a scene where someone turns to the camera and says, "To these sharks, we're bait." And then someone else leans in and whispers, "3D."

The Wicker Man

Now Streaming on Shudder

Matt: While Nicolas Cage's "NOT THE BEES!" dialogue has become a thing of legend in Neil LaBute's 2006 remake, Robin Hardy's original The Wicker Man is quintessential springtime horror. Christopher Lee is the most deliciously demented Lord Summerisle, his remote isle a fantasy land of pagan rituals that dismay Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward). Ever-so subtle sacrificial undertones bubble under quaint village interactions and lusty communal practices. Celtic imagery, phallic May Day celebrations, and massive effigial prisons seem so unthreatening at first as the habits of locals usher in hive-mind innocence – but that's the film's greatest trick. Accepting you with open arms, only to blossom nefarious motives under assuming rays of sunshine. Far more emphatically fucked than you're able to realize in time.

Chris: I'm furious Matt didn't pick the Nicolas Cage version. That said, the original Wicker Man is pretty good too, I guess. In all seriousness, The Wicker Man is loaded with atmosphere, so much so that it feels less like a movie and more like a documentary. Like we've somehow stepped into a real event, and like the main character, we can't get out. Harry Waxman's sun-dappled cinematography proves that you don't need darkness and shadows to craft a scary horror movie. Sometimes, the scariest events can happen in broad daylight.

Piranha 3D

Now Streaming on Netflix

Matt: No, I don't love every finned movie with 3D slapped on the end – it just so happens that two of my favorite underwater predator movies fit the bill. Bait 3D is but a starter course before the succulent feast that is Alexandre Aja's Piranha 3D. Every Spring Break box is checked. Alcohol-soaked lake swimmers in constant peril, hordes of snappy piranhas hungry for flesh, Eli Roth getting his head crushed as a aggro douche – what doesn't this movie have. Jerry O'Connell as a sleazeball Girls Gone Wild mogul who dies an absurdly vicious death? Check. Ving Rhames shredding piranhas with a boat propeller as a last line of shallows defence? Check. Elisabeth Shue strappin' her big-girl pants on and saving the day with Adam Scott's help? Check and mate. This remake knows what it is and never cheats audiences. Gore, guts and plenty of fish food for the picking.

Chris: Piranha 3D opens with Richard Dreyfuss, dressed as his character from Jaws, being devoured by angry piranhas. When asked why he would take such a part, Dreyfuss responded: "money." You have to respect that. And you have to respect a killer fish movie that makes Adam Scott the leading man. Also, there's a scene where the piranhas eat Jerry O'Connell's penis. Viva la cinema!

Zombeavers

Now Streaming on Netflix

Matt: Continuing a very obvious narrative throughout most of this week's selections, Zombeavers is yet another lakeside poke at fun-in-the-sun gone horribly wrong – this time with goddamn zombie beavers. "But Matt, that sounds absolutely ridiculous." Of course it is! John Mayer and Bill Burr accidently dump chemical waste in a body of water where beavers reside, thus giving the animals an infectious bite that can turn anything into a beaver. Soak that in. No spoilers, but trust that director Jordan Rubin pays off that notion and billions more. We're talkin' practical transformations into hybrid zombie creatures, horny teens stuck defending their cabin from buck-toothed invaders, a zany sense of humor that never lets the party die (heh) – Zombeavers is a rare horror film that delivers exactly what's promised by titled obscurity. Like WolfCop or Bed Of The Dead does.

Chris: Some days, you need to watch finely crafted, impeccable works of art. Other days, you need to watch movies called Zombeavers. 'Nuff said.

Spring

Now Streaming on Shudder

Chris: There's not a lot of beauty in horror, which is understandable. The genre tends to lend itself to the hideous and the ugly. Which makes Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead's Spring all the more remarkable. With Spring, Benson and Moorhead have crafted horror's answer to Richard Linklater's Before Trilogy – an achingly lovely romance that just happens to involve Lovecraftian tentacle monsters. After some trouble back home, American Lou Taylor Pucci packs his bags and heads to beautiful, scenic Italy (Benson and Moorhead employ a lot of drone cinematography to capture some god damn gorgeous coastlines). There, Pucci falls head over heels for college student Nadia Hilker, who is beautiful yet hiding a deep, dark secret. The will they/won't between Pucci and Hilker is at the heart of Spring, but don't assume this is some sappy romance. Every now and then, some poor chump will find himself turned into a meal. But oh, what poetry exists in Spring. There's a raw, aching, hard-to-pin down pulse that throbs through this film – it hypnotizes you; lures you in; awakens some sort of longing deep in your heart. Spring is proof that there's romance to be found in horror – you just have to know where to look.

Matt: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead are two of indie film's brightest, most creative minds when it comes to inquisitive genre content. Resolution and The Endless allow for cult-centric ruminations on life itself, but Spring is – and will forever be – their masterpiece. A perfect movie in every sense. I'll let the above say it all.

The Evil Dead

Now Streaming on Shudder

Chris: Hey, you ever hear of this movie, Evil Dead? Supposed to be pretty good! Okay, look, I feel a bit basic recommending Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead. But I'm going to do it anyway, and you're going to read it, because that's how this column works. Here's the thing: when most people think of the Evil Dead franchise, they think of it as being rather comical, loaded with cheesy humor and corny jokes. This is primarily due to Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness (and the Starz series Ash vs. Evil Dead), which found Raimi and company embracing the Three Stooges nature of the material. But the original Evil Dead isn't trying to be funny. Instead, the first film plays everything straight, and attempts to craft a nerve-jangling, genuinely scary horror film. You know the drill: Bruce Campbell, his mighty chin, and several other poorly-dressed people go up to a secluded cabin for Spring Break. While there, they unleash demonic forces hell-bent on ruining their good time. Lots and lots of fake blood and guts follow. The end result is a low-budget miracle – the definitive example of doing so much with so little. Other people may prefer the more over-the-top Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness. But the original, far-more-serious Evil Dead will always be my personal favorite.

Matt: I'm an Evil Dead II guy through and through (shocker, right), but will stan for Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell's original. The DIY value and low-budget sharpness is off-the-charts proficient, good enough to allow for Evil Dead II and Ash Williams' unchallenged legacy. Respect the chin and honor thy creators.

Tourist Trap

Now Streaming on Shudder

Chris: I'm not using hyperbole when I say Tourist Trap is one of the weirdest horror movies I've ever seen. On the surface, the film has a pretty standard horror set-up: a bunch of young people get stranded in the middle of nowhere, and proceed to get real dead real fast. But Tourist Trap uses that familiar horror trope to stage something so fucking whacked-out that watching it feels like tripping on cough syrup. The story begins on a sunny day, when a group of youths find a secluded watering hole and decide to take a dip. Unfortunately, the body of water is on the property of Mr. Slausen (played to perfection by cowboy character actor Chuck Connors). Slausen seems kind of friendly, even though he points a shotgun at the youngsters at first. But it turns out the old man runs some weird-ass tourist trap (hey, that's the title!) full of creepy mannequins that may or may not be alive. Oh, and his possibly insane twin brother is lurking somewhere as well. By the time Tourist Trap ends, you'll be left wondering, "What the hell did I just watch?" And I mean that in the best possible way.

Matt: Upon further investigation, every part of my soul aches for not having seen this movie yet. Looks like a Tourist Trap watch is in my immediate future.

The Shallows

Now Streaming on Starz

Chris: The Jaume Collet-Serra stan has logged on. I used a Collet-Serra movie in the last Now Scream This, so please excuse me while I use yet another in this edition. Collet-Serra's The Shallows isn't as much of a straight horror film as Orphan, but it has enough terror to be appropriate for this column. Ever since Steven Spielberg made everyone afraid to take a dip in the ocean with Jaws, sharksploitation films have become a big industry. There's even one coming out this year – the Jason Statham vs. Giant Shark flick The Meg. The Shallows is more stripped-down than most shark movies, though. The action is contained to one specific area, and aside from three no-name side characters, there aren't many deaths. Instead, The Shallows is all about Blake Lively trying to survive one long day and night while trapped on a rock just off the shore of a secret beach. In the film, Lively is a med student taking a break from college (a spring break, perhaps? If not, let's just pretend). She takes her surfboard and seeks out a beach her recently deceased mother once visited. After catching some killer waves, Lively gets trapped on some rocks as a very angry great white shark keeps circling, ready to turn her into lunch. The only company Lively's character has is a very photogenic seagull named Steven Seagull (played by a real seagull actor named Sully, by the way). Collet-Serra loads this simple premise with enough style, thrills and gorgeous scenic cinematography to make The Shallows one of the most enjoyable, entertaining killer shark films in recent memory. It's no Jaws, but hey, what is?

Matt: Every so often, I'm forced to churn a review out within hours to meet embargo, not fully digesting the cinematic product thus consumed. In the case of The Shallows, I wish my 3.5/5 star review could be bumped to a straight 4-star achievement. Jaume Collet-Serra's ability to go single-setting and deliver a striking CGI shark is next-level seamless, while Blake Lively's performance is nothing short of the spectacular situational adaptation her talents have proven thus far in her career. This is bottled beachgoer fear – unfiltered and raw like Michelin-grade sushi.

Wrong Turn

Now Streaming on MaxGO

Chris: Ever since Tobe Hooper made inbred redneck murderers famous with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, horror movies have been trying to recapture some of that grimy magic. No one has come close. But 2003's Wrong Turn is a surprisingly effective early 2000s horror flick that strands some very attractive people on a holiday road trip somewhere in West Virginia and pits them against some truly hideous looking hillbillies. I don't know if you remember the early 2000s, folks, but it was a bit of a dire time for horror movies. The self-referential streak launched by Scream had yet to die out, and the horror movie landscape was littered with either in-joke-laden crap or dull, lifeless remakes. In the midst of all that was Rob Schmidt's surprisingly nasty Wrong Turn, filled with grisly kills and a genuine unpleasantness that most studio horror movies were afraid to attempt Is it a smart movie? No. Is it particularly original? Absolutely not. Is it effective? Yes, it is.

Matt: I might prefer Joe Lynch's Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, but Chris' assessment above is largely correct. As a slasher fan, there's a lot of enjoy about grimy backwoods hooligans who like munching on victims like Eliza Dushku, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Jeremy Sisto and many other hardbody genre sacrifices. If I had a dollar for every Jeremy Sisto death in a horror movie...