Now Scream This: Prepare For 'Overlord' With These Finely Polished Modern B-Movies

(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: Having already injected Overlord's glowing serum into my eyeballs at Fantastic Fest, let me assure you lovely readers that genre content this wild (typically) doesn't get blockbuster treatment these days. Nazi experiments, bone-crunching body contortions, tough-as-nails military action blended with Re-Animator afterlife tampering? Overlord goes for it, and despite a lengthy attic stay during the film's second act, delivers on making Nazis even more evil than history books profess. With that in mind, Chris and I decided to honor some other big-budget horror titles that embrace the lunacy of B-movie patchworking on the largest screen possible. Infected school lunches, snarling zombie clowns, Michael Rooker with tentacles. You know, the usual!

Chris: I've yet to see Overlord, because I don't get out as much as Matt (I'm basically a shut-in, folks; get off my lawn). That said, I do love when B-movie sensibilities slip through into mainstream cinema. I was hoping to include M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening – the ultimate big budget B-movie – on this list, but sadly, it's not streaming anywhere. Because life isn't fair. So I had to include another M. Night movie instead. A side-note: some of the films on this list aren't "big-budget" compared to something like a Marvel movie, but they're certainly more well-funded than your standard, ultra-low-budget B-movie.

Don’t Kill It

Now Streaming on Netflix

Matt: Am I already cheating with my first pick? Yes. 100%. Mike Mendez's Don't Kill It is low-budget as dirt but deserves maximum exposure. The concept is simple: don't kill "it." What's "it?" An ancient demon who terrorizes Mississippi townies. The problem is when you kill the demon – eviscerating whoever's currently possessed – another nearby body becomes the new vessel. Dolph Lundgren saunters into frame as evil hunter Jebediah Woodley, Kristina Klebe his reluctant partner, and B-Movie hijinx sufficiently coat smalltown innocents in dummies-and-prosthetics gore when caught in this demon hunter vs. unstoppable foe meat grinder. On second thought, you want a tie-in to this week's "big-budget B-movie" theme? Here's my plea to grant Mendez a massive budget and full creative liberties with a mainstream sequel/revamp/remake/reimagining of Don't Kill It. Click, click, BOOM.

Chris: I have no idea what this is. I wouldn't expect anything less from Matt.

Cooties

Now Streaming on HBOGO

Matt: When genre buffs discuss outbreak horror, Cooties too often gets forgotten in conversations. Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion's horror comedy about "infected" children rebelling against authority figures is an absolute blast of playground face-chewing and brutal black humor. Leigh Whannell and Ian Brennan's script first ruins your appetite for chicken nuggets, then launches into a world where only children can contract a spreading rage virus. Teachers played by Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill and more fight back through R-rated methods against waves of knee-high zombies. Laughs are steady, carnage kid-(un)friendly, plus Pepijn Caudron (aka Kreng) supplies lollipop-sweet synthwave beats on par with my favorite original scores that year. A hilarious frenzy of bloody kickballs and horrified educators. That'll earn a passing grade any day.

Chris: Cooties is one of those rare horror flicks that isn't afraid to bump-off zombie children. What more do you want? How about a really great cast, and co-writer Leigh Whannell stealing the show in a weird supporting performance?

The Belko Experiment

Now Streaming on HBOGO

Matt: Real talk: I caught some flak online for my "Battle Royale meets Office Space" pull-quote adorning The Belko Experiment's poster and home release cover, but truly, my stance on Greg McLean and James Gunn's dystopian conspiracy is exactly that. Blame this critic's sense of humor, but scenes had me laughing. It's conceptually bonkers – 80 American employees find themselves trapped in their Bogotá, Colombia office with instructions to kill one another – appropriately paranoid, and blow-up-brains vicious when it comes to Worksploitation horror. Those looking for something more straightforward in horror comedy realms should favor Joe Lynch's Mayhem, and while I prefer Mayhem as well, The Belko Experiment nails that pitch-nasty "humankind is doomed" vibe with "Black Site" intrigue. Sue me. The Belko Experiment is the mean, cynical, smoking-gun kind of exploitation gunk this critic craves.

Chris: I am one of those folks who prefers Mayhem to Belko, but I do appreciate how unapologetically nasty this movie is.

Zombieland

Now Streaming on Starz On Demand

Matt: No disrespect towards Ruben Fleischer's direction – he's the glue who holds Zombieland together – but Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick's screenplay is one of the most essential mainstream contributions to horror in the 2000s. No, really! Theirs is proof that audience-pleasing horror comedies can exist with a balance between gut-check laughs, zombie gore, and sneaky-but-slick worldbuilding. Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin the shotguns-and-banjos family we never knew we needed. Bill Murray the surprise cameo standout every movie needs. Twinkies, Harrelson's emotional backstory, awkward teen romantics in a time of undead scourges – and yet the film *never* loses its B-movie grin. Rule #1? Never sleep on Zombieland.

Chris: I haven't seen Zombieland since it played in theaters, and there's a part of me that worries it won't hold up. But I did enjoy it at the time, and appreciated how funny it was.

Slither

Now Streaming on Starz On Demand

Matt: James Gunn's name is listed twice on a piece discussing B-movies? Color me surprised! Wait, don't. This Troma graduate oozes exploitation and midnight markings, all of which squirm out in his cult-beloved 2006 invasion flick Slither. Universal pictures should be awarded a medal for releasing this gross-out, massively effects-driven creature feature bolstered by an *amazing* cast including Nathan Fillion, Michael Rooker, and Elizabeth Banks. Quaint backwoods locals must defend against slimy slug creatures who turn victims into mutant monsters, and it all gets so artfully outrageous as only Gunn's vivid – grotesquely deformed – creativity can achieve. Fun with a capital "F-U."

Chris: Before James Gunn graduated to blockbusters (and then got fired), he delivered this wonderfully cheesy monster movie, full of great practical effects. It's a hoot.

Cloverfield

Now Streaming on Netflix

Chris: Cloverfield took the events of 9/11 and spun them into the framework of a giant monster movie. Yes, the shaky cam might be distracting. Sure, the main characters are kind of dumb. But there's a genuine sense of danger and dread here. The action – which involves a kaiju-like monster destroying New York, as filmed by a group of friends – feels real. We're sucked into the world of this film, and there's never a moment where any of the mayhem feels phony. Director Matt Reeves is drawing on giant monster B-movies, and adapting them into the post-September 11th age, with chilling results.

Matt: Cloverfield is a masterpiece not of found footage, but cinema itself. Viral marketing redefined PR hype vehicles, Slusho's legacy grew, and the movie that followed wasn't half bad! By that I mean Cloverfield transplants viewers into modern Godzilla destruction rich in scale that makes us feel so tiny and insignificant. Exhilarating, a technological pivot point, and one of the best science fiction offerings of my generation.

Shutter Island

Now Streaming on Hulu

Chris: I've seen some people suggest Shutter Island is a "lesser Scorsese" work. Nuts to that! Martin Scorsese takes a twisty noir that could've easily played out as a generic thriller and injects it with style and poetry. Drawing on Jacques Tourneur films like I Walked With a Zombie and Cat People, Scorsese crafts a nightmarish tale of a man haunted by his past. Leonardo DiCaprio is a federal marshal investigating the escape of a patient from a mental institute located on a secluded island. Once on the island, however, DiCaprio starts discovering secrets that hint at a nefarious plot, possibly involving Nazi experiments. Or maybe not. Scorsese draws on genre trappings and cinematic language from the past to tell the tale, and is clearly having a blast doing it.

Matt: Two for two, Chris! Leo and Marty unite for a spooky noir that may run a bit long, but if those jagged puzzle pieces don't fit diabolically in place...

Split

Now Streaming on MAXGo

Chris: Night Shyamalan's Split takes an age-old B-movie premise – multiple personalities! – and uses it to create one heck of a thriller. Shyamalan had already crawled his way back from director's jail with the gnarly found footage film The Visit, but with Split, he proved he was back for good. This is Shyamalan's most confident movie in years, complete with a unique visual style that differs it from almost all of his other movies. James McAvoy is fantastic as the villain afflicted by 23 separate personalities, and Anya Taylor-Joy is remarkable and sympathetic as one of the young women he kidnaps. Yes, the film eventually builds towards a twist that ties it to Unbreakable, but ignore that. Split stands on its own.

Matt: If people try and tell you Split is M. Night's comeback, they didn't see The Visit - but James McAvoy puts on an acting showcase that deserves all the attention it garnered. "The Beast" earns his notoriety.

8MM

Now Streaming on Shudder

Chris: Joel Schumacher's 8MM feels like a film that time forgot, which makes it worthy of being revisited now that it's streaming on Shudder. A trashy, sleazy story about a private eye (Nicolas Cage) trying to determine if a snuff film is real, 8MM goes to exceedingly dark places. And yet, Schumacher doesn't seem willing to go as dark as Andrew Kevin Walker's script wants, which creates a strange yet fascinating atmosphere that makes 8MM both cheesy and dreary at the same time. Cage is fine, and subdued. Joaquin Phoenix steals the show, however, as the porn shop clerk helping Cage infiltrate the underworld of illegal pornography.

Matt: "Goddamit Matt, how haven't you seen 8MM yet," he can hear Chris mumble while admitting not having yet watched 8MM.

Drag Me to Hell

Now Streaming on HBOGo

Chris: Sam Raimi left superhero cinema behind to return to his horror roots with 2009's Drag Me to Hell. The result? A goofy-as-shit spook-o-blast movie full of constant screams, flying goo, over-the-top jump-scares, and a talking goat puppet. I'll confess that this isn't my favorite Raimi horror film, and I actually think it goes too over-the-top for its own good. But it's still fun to watch Raimi go nuts and pull out all the stops. When bank clerk Alison Lohman refuses to help an elderly woman with her home loan, the woman curses Lohman's character. Afterwards, Lohman is besieged by all sorts of demonic nonsense, all while trying to break the curse. Raimi hasn't helmed a horror movie since Drag Me to Hell, and that's a darn shame.

Matt: A bile-spewing Sam Raimi flick complete with talking possessed goat? 'Tha hell are you waiting for! An invitation from below?