Now Scream This: Warm Up For Halloween With This Horror Grab-Bag

(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: Since my colleague Chris is doing some massive legwork covering Toronto International Film Festival for /Film, this week's theme is easy: pick some movies and write about 'em. The same will surely happen next issue while I'm simultaneously serving up Fantastic Fest reviews here on /Film. Once September hits, it's straight chaos for us film journalists – especially horror-focused cats like ourselves. TIFF's Midnighters, Fantastic Fest, October horror season, countless other genre festivals...the list goes on. Nonetheless, Chris and I are devoted to steering you right in your streaming horror watches, so we're back once again to show y'all the light. Or darkness? You get me, homies.

Chris: TIFF kicked my ass, but I made sure I carved out time to recommend some horror movies to you, the readers. Because that's just the type of nice guy that I am! This is yet another theme-free entry from us fine folks at Now Scream This, but you're okay with that, right? Don't judge us too harshly. We're just trying to help.

WolfCop

Now Streaming on Shudder

Matt: He's a wolf. He's a cop. He's Dirty Harry, but hairier. Lowell Dean's Canadian import WolfCop is what midnight movie dreams are made of. Leo Fafard stars as Lou Garou, an alcoholic small-town lawman who – through cult entanglement – becomes a werewolf. But not an animalistic, completely out of control werewolf (Dog Soldiers). Garou still dons his uniform as WolfCop, fighting crime despite furry exteriors. It's exactly as ridiculous as marketed, from prison love-making scenes to one of the most detailed and squeamish bodily werewolf metamorphoses of this decade. Expect silly puns ("Liquor Donuts"), primal WolfCop kills, and Jonathan Cherry in a supporting role doing what he does best – Canadianing the hell outta' each scene (ya goddamn hosers). Bring on the full moon, baby. ARROOOOOOO!!!

Chris: WolfCop is one of those movies that's better in theory than practice. But the practical werewolf effects are pretty damn good!

Terrifier

Now Streaming on Netflix

Matt: Damien Leone's Terrifier doesn't exactly earn my fully-recommended endorsement – plotting is sparse and spirits quite nasty – but gorehounds are gobbling this Dread Central Presents release up like all-you-can-eat barbeque. The film's villain, Art The Clown, smiles and slashes his way through Halloween victims as a malicious mime who could become a new-age slasher mainstay in the right hands (bar is low these days, mind you). David Howard Thornton's antagonistic performance would make Twisty The Clown blush and Pennywise gasp, as the jovial entertainer treats murder like a court jester unveiling his next act. Practical effects carve jack o'lanterns out of pizza tossers and deliver one of 2018's most gruesome, keep-you-awake-at-night death sequences, but as previously stated, Terrifier's intent is extremist indie torture. Take that as either a green light or proper warning.

Chris: I haven't seen this yet, but it's sitting in my Netflix queue. Will I ever watch it, or is it doomed to sit there forever, unwatched, like 90% of the other stuff I add? Time will tell!

Doom

Now Streaming on Netflix

Matt: Say it with me now, "Doom is underrated." Maybe not as a sensible sci-fi actioner meant to subvert subgenre norms, but definitely as a midnight monster movie featuring Karl Ubran's iconic grimace, Dwayne Johnson's BFG obsession, and a wild FPS mode that runs through Doom-inspired gauntlets as if it's the video game. Moods are darkened and effects dismemberment-vicious at times, even if some of the hellbeast creatures tracking Sarge's team are straight rips from Resident Evil. Who are we to poo-poo a film that so expertly utilizes the slimy, underbelly-creep charms of Richard Brake ceremoniously well? A team of space marine grunts, teleportation, Rosamund Pike - stop sleeping on Doom. It kicks in fast and starts stomping on human and non-human characters like bugs under falling shoes. Give this one a go next time you've got a few genre-happy friends and a 30-rack of cold brews (I've even got a drinking game created elsewhere on the internet if that's your thing!).

Chris: I very much enjoy working with Matt on this column, and I respect his opinion. But Doom is garbage. I'm sorry!

Murder Party

Now Streaming on Netflix

Matt: Before Blue Ruin, before Green Room, Jeremy Saulnier began his feature filmmaking career with the colorless title Murder Party. What starts with a random Halloween party invitation ends in bloodshed, artistic egotism, and kidnapping gone awry. Chris Sharp plays a loner who gets suckered into a tied-up trap, his "loser" the perfect target for creative psychopaths with mangled October plans. In order to escape, Chris must turn costumed lunatics against one another. "The invitation said "Murder Party" – if some jackass is dumb enough to come here then he deserves to die." Chainsaws, creative pretension, cardboard knight's armor – all this thrown into a boil and intensified by Saulnier's now-household sense of brutal, unforgiving bleakness. "When our masterpiece is complete, and the coroner's report is back in, it will read the cause of death: Art." If these lines are doing it for you, please pop Murder Party on ASAP. Forever in my heart a one of the very first films I ever rented from Netflix...through the mail!

Chris: Jeremy Saulnier would go on to bigger and better things, but right from the start, you can see the signs of the great filmmaker to come. This isn't nearly as good as Blue Ruin or Green Room, but it does the trick.

Suburban Gothic

Now Streaming on Hulu and Shudder

Matt: Between Excision, Trash Fire, and Suburban Gothic, Richard Bates Jr. is one of the premiere genre filmmakers who should be on everyone's radar. Admittedly, Suburban Gothic is my least favorite of the three – which is still a solid 3.5/5 star endeavor. Matthew Gray Gubler plays Raymond, an MBA grad who can't find work and moves back home with his parents. Turns out he can also communicate with paranormal entities, one of whom threatens his small town with a vengeful agenda. Enter bartender Becca (Kat Dennings), hipster Poltergeist vibes, Bates Jr.'s searing black-comedy sensationalism, and elitism on blast with a PBR-soaked Ghostbusters spin. Comedy is always on the mind versus spooky scares – what Bates Jr. does best – as a cast including Ray Wise, John Waters, and Jeffrey Combs aid in Gubler's neurotic quest for purpose. A film this cynical? How can I not recommend this?

Chris: Horror-comedy can be notoriously tricky to get right, but Suburban Gothic does a pretty good job. That said, this feels more like an extended pilot for a TV series than a movie. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing – please, by all means, turn this into a TV series.

The Conjuring

Now Streaming on Netflix

Chris: Conjuring Universe film The Nun is currently scaring the shit out of audiences with her crazy-ass jump-scares, but for my money, nothing is ever going to top the original The Conjuring. I'm glad James Wan is getting big blockbuster gigs like Aquaman, but all I really want is for him to return to horror. He's so damn good at it, and The Conjuring is the proof. This is an old-school horror throwback, in the same vein as The Amityville Horror and The Changeling. It's creepy as hell, but best of all, it takes the time to establish its characters and make us care about them. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are great as paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren, who are called to help a family in crisis, haunted by the ghost of a witch. Wan has great control of the camera, and knows exactly how to use it to increase the creep-factor. I personally am a bit indifferent to all the spin-off films, but I'd happily watch more direct Conjuring sequels for the next few years.

Matt: The Conjuring is a paranormal masterwork. Record-breaking, nail-biting, keep-the -lights-on-for-a-week haunted house amazement that cemented James Wan as a modern-day master of horror. Performances, aesthetic, scares – it's the full Halloween package. You need Chris or myself to tell you that, but we're gonna do the damn thing anyway.

Southbound

Now Streaming on Shudder

Chris: I love a good horror anthology. Sadly, so many horror anthologies are, well, bad (I'm looking at you, V/H/S franchise). The problem with horror anthologies is usually that there will be one or two great segments surrounded by utter crap. Southbound manages to avoid this almost entirely. In this 2015 flick, we're treated to five tales of terror revolving around the same general stretch of highway. Of all the segments, my two favorites are Siren, from director Roxanne Benjamin, about a rock band that find themselves in the home of an extremely weird couple; and David Bruckner's nasty The Accident, where everything that can go wrong does go wrong, with extremely bloody consequences.

Matt: As a horror anthology enthusiast, Southbound has been a favorite rewatch since Fantastic Fest 2015. Open rambler vibes on a highway paved with lost souls. Shout out to David Bruckner and the involved Radio Silence members whose segments rev loudest. Ratios are always a problem in this specific subgenre, but Southbound has a tank full of nasty that lasts all night.

The Dark Half

Now Streaming on Hulu

Chris: George Romero adapts Stephen King's The Dark Half into an eeire, violent horror-thriller featuring some gnarly special effects. Early in his career, King supplemented his regular work by publishing additional books under the pen-name Richard Bachman. After King was outed as Bachman, he killed the fake author off. The experience inspired The Dark Half, in which an author (Timothy Hutton) finds himself stalked by his own pseudonym, who has inexplicably come to life and started killing people. This awards Hutton the chance to play both the normal, down-to-earth author and his psychopathic counterpart, and he doesn't disappoint. As an added bonus, The Dark Half features Michael Rooker playing a normal, good guy! That almost never happens! This is one of Romero's slickest productions, and a pretty damn good King adaptation.

Matt: As per usual, Chris finds something I haven't watched yet. My "watch this someday" list is getting out of control...

Pumpkinhead

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Chris: I love the idea of Pumpkinhead more than the execution. The film deals with witchcraft, pumpkins, and Lance Henriksen – three of my favorite things! The movie gets a bit shaky at times, but it's worth it thanks to the incredible creature effects (the film is the feature directorial debut of late effects wizard Stan Winston). Henriksen plays a loving father who decides to summon a pumpkin-headed demon for revenge. A group of rowdy youths accidentally killed Henriksen's son, and that doesn't sit very kindly with the man. They made several Pumpkinhead sequels, including one that borrows the plot of Romeo and Juliet, but adds Pumpkinhead (I'm not kidding). Ignore all those and stick with the original.

Matt: Pumpkinhead is one of those old-school practical flicks I'd never want to see remade because you know they'd CGI the goshdarn thing into oblivion. A fun little relic that you'd be fine enough unearthing for a punchy creature feature watch. I hate admitting Chris is right sometimes.

Pet Sematary 2

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Chris: Everyone remembers the 1989 Pet Sematary film adaptation, and rightfully so. But did you know that Mary Lambert, the filmmaker behind the first film, came back to helm a sequel? It's true! Pet Sematary 2 is an entirely original story, with virtually nothing to do with Stephen King's original, save for the fact that it involves an burial ground that raises the dead. Whiny teen Jeff (Edward Furlong) and his well-meaning father (Anthony Edwards!) move to Ludlow, Maine, after Jeff's mother, an actress, dies during a freak on-set accident. Soon Jeff learns all about the Micmac burial ground and it's evil powers. In the process, the town's violent lawman (Clancy Brown) gets killed and raised from the dead. Brown is the real reason to see this, as he hams it up big time as the undead cop. "No brain, no pain!" he says at one point before attempting to take a power drill to Anthony Edwards' skull. Honestly, what more do you want from a movie?

Matt: *adds to watch list* Chrissssssss!