Now Scream This: 'Mandy', 'Maniac' And Other Amazing Horror Movies You Can Stream 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: Apologies for the lack of theme this week – blame me. My stack of Christmas Horror screeners and awards season voting catch-up has grown into an untamable beast filling half my apartment. This week you're getting a selection of favorites, fresh hits, and forgotten films done dirty by the vast influx of VOD titles that bury last week's releases despite overall quality. Plus, Chris and I are going to gift-wrap some seasonal treats next week, so expect a double-down on December streaming content. We'll make up for it, don't worry.

Chris: Matt and I are still recovering from Thanksgiving, so we're giving you an old-fashioned, un-themed round-up of horror for this edition of Now Scream This. Themes are great, but sometimes it's fun to just kick back and watch whatever the hell you want, restrictions be damned.  

Mandy

Now Streaming on Shudder

Matt: Maybe I was tripped up in my own hallucinogenic phase, but my immediate reaction to Mandy was "Crank meets Melancholia meets the Devil himself." Complaints of a disjointed Act I as Nicolas Cage's character Red loses everything he loves have been posted by those less enthused with Panos Cosmatos' ragin' revenge thriller. I understand, frankly. There's a lot to take in as Red and lover Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) collide with cult maniac Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache), their lives forever destroyed – but Mandy's second half is a sensational work of genre artistry. From when Cage downs that bottle of bathroom vodka until the last cultist has been brutally slain, Cosmatos' crimson hues and commitment to psychedelic, metal-as-fuck "demon" fighting is the best usage of Nicolas Cage in years. There are men with nothing to lose – which we've seen many times before – and then there's Red in Mandy. Next-level vengeance of the trippiest, most affecting variety.

Chris: Mandy is one of the year's best films. A mind-blowing acid-trip of a movie that has to seen to be believed.

Let Her Out

Now Streaming on Shudder

Matt: With the number of horror festivals I attend throughout the year, it's inevitable that a likable film or two gets lost in the indie distribution shuffle. Cody Calahan's Let Her Out is one such example, after grabbing my attention at 2016's Toronto After Dark Film Festival only to go completely dark stateside. No massive PR campaign, an under-the-radar release model, which is a shame because there's some gnarly body horror work in this psychologically damaging story of – well, read for yourself. Chances are none of you have even heard of this movie, so instead of me heaping on praise, here's my reviewed synopsis which I'll confirm is delivered upon 100%. If this synopsis of an engaging, female-led story of trauma, grief, and the blurriness in between grips your interest, don't hesitate:

"Alanna LeVierge stars as Helen, a Canadian bike courier holding onto a dark past. Her mother – a sex worker impregnated through rape – unsuccessfully attempted to kill Helen, resulting in her own death and "newborn" Helen's rescue. This still haunts a now adult Helen, and it's only going to get worse. After an accident puts her in the hospital, a tumor is discovered with side-effects far beyond medical means. Helen finds herself suffering from hallucinations, dementia and memory lapses that lead to the discovery that she wasn't alone in her mother's womb – and her unborn sister wants the life she never had."

Chris: No idea what this is, but it apparently has a "brutal transformation scene", which immediately gets my interest.

Dead Set

Now Streaming on Netflix

Matt: Ever wonder what'd happen if zombies overran a Big Brother production? Dead Set only lasts five episodes – which makes it much less daunting of a Netflix binge than their typical ten-to-thirteen episode, hour-each original programs – and is exactly that. Sleazy showrunners and contestants far off the grid are the last ones to learn a zombie outbreak has ravaged Britain, not until death comes knocking at their (mostly) zombie-proof doors. You'll recognize faces like Andy Nyman, Jaime Winstone, and Riz Ahmed, all playing their part in reality television satire during a time of apocalyptic dread. No contact to the outside world, "eviction night" now with a whole new meaning. Also, it's a gory, gratuitous blast of self-aware broadcasting chaos.

Chris: Matt is going all-out this week on films I haven't seen. But hey, Riz Ahmed!

The Mansion

Now Streaming on Netflix

Matt: Tony T. Datis's French import The Mansion is one of those generic "isolated vacation gone bad" horror comedies until the last act. An eerie rental house, a New Years Eve party, hormones and intoxicants mixing inside jovial students – we've all heard this story before. Partygoers start dying one by one, a slasher villain emerges, and comedy remains a constant contrast to otherwise gruesome flavors of death. If I'm staying vague, it's because The Mansion relies on expectancies being freed from chains and unmasked to be a zanier, more dangerous – psychologically and physically – back half than even hallucinogenic boar encounters can tease. If you've seen French horror flicks, you already understand how weird storytelling can become. This lesser-seen festival discovery is no different.

Chris: At this point, I think Matt is just making movies up to make me look bad. I'm onto you, mister.

The Return of the Living Dead

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime

Matt: Dan O'Bannon's 1985 punk-rock zombie classic is my gold standard when it comes to horror comedies. Too many memorable moments to praise. Clu Gulager's overstated ability to make matters increasingly worse while trying to cover up his contamination leak? Tarman screaming for brains? Linnea Quigley's graveyard strip show while assorted "losers" dance around with road flares? Mark Venturini's line delivery – while head-to-toe in chains and leather – of "You think this is a fuckin' costume? This is a way of life!" James Karen – may he rest in peace – and Franks incineration scene while "Burn The Flames" sets a somber tone? The kick-your-face soundtrack, "damn the man" themes, nasty zombie defenses – there hasn't been a genre comedy that rocks this hard since the '85. Hard stop.

Chris: Alright, here we go! A movie I've seen! Return of the Living Dead is an absolute hoot, full of gnarly special effects, goofy humor and James Karen stealing the show. They don't make 'em like this anymore.

Maniac (1980)

Now Streaming on Netflix and Shudder

Chris: Sleazy, skeezy, and altogether unpleasant, William Lustig's Maniac is a cut above your standard slasher film. It's more psychological than most slashers, and it's also a lot nastier. Watching Maniac feels like we're watching the inner workings of a truly deranged mind. Joe Spinell, looking so sweaty and unkempt that you can practically smell the stink coming off him, is Frank Zito, a serial killer who scalps women in down and dirty NYC. As far as plots go, it's not exactly nuanced. But the raw intensity Spinell (who co-wrote the script) brings to the part, mixed with the graphic gore effects from the legendary Tom Savini make Maniac a stunner worth watching (if you can stomach it).

Matt: While I think I prefer Franck Khalfoun's 2012 remake starring Elijah Wood, Lustig's greasy, depraved slasher flick is a grimy slice of exploitation disgust. Yes, those are all good things.

Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Chris: There were actually two different prequels to The Exorcist. Here's what happened: Paul Schrader – the filmmaker responsible for this year's fantastic First Reformed, among other things – was hired to helm a prequel to the classic horror movie. What Schrader ended up making was cerebral and psychological, dealing with a crisis of faith – in some ways, it's almost a precursor to his First Reformed. But that wasn't what the producers wanted, and the ended up pulling the plug before Schrader could finish editing. Then, at great cost, the producers brought in Cliffhanger director Renny Harlin to reshoot the entire film, and add a bunch of goofy CGI. That film was released as Exorcist: The Beginning. A year later, Schrader's finished film – now called Dominion – was released, too. Dominion is the superior work, but it's still very rough around the edges (there are several special effects in the movie that are clearly unfinished). And yet, it's a fascinating watch. Stellan Skarsgård plays a younger version of Father Merrin, the old priest from the original Exorcist played by Max von Sydow. Haunted by his past, Merrin takes part in an archeological dig in Kenya, and comes across ancient evil. Dominion can't hold a candle to The Exorcist, but it's worth seeing just for the curiosity factor alone.

Matt: Who's got time for one prequel to The Exorcist, let alone two?! Chris is over here thinkin' there are 48 hours in a day instead of 24. I guess I'll start with Dominion.

Don’t Look Now

Now Streaming on Kanopy

Chris: Director Nicolas Roeg died recently, leaving behind quite a legacy. Don't Look Now is part of that legacy – a strange, eerie thriller that might break your brain. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie play a couple grieving the death of their young daughter. The pair head to Venice so Sutherland's character can take a job, and once there, perplexing events begin to befall them. Sutherland keeps seeing what looks like his dead daughter running all over Venice, while Christie's character connects with two mediums who say they're able to contact the dead girl's spirit. Haunting, weird, and featuring one of the most infamous sex scenes ever captured on film, Don't Look Now will take you by surprise.

Matt: Rest in peace, Mr. Roeg. Please do watch Don't Look Now in his honor, "Now Scream This" readers. Chris is right with "might break your brain."

Mom and Dad

Now Streaming on Hulu

Chris: You want some Nicolas Cage screaming action? Look no further than Mom and Dad (after you watch Mandy on Shudder, that is). In this wacky horror-comedy, Cage and Selma Blair play a suburban couple who are dorky as hell when we first meet them. But a sudden outbreak causes adults everywhere to suddenly turn on their children, and attempt to murder them. Now Cage and Blair's kids (Anne Winters and Zackary Arthur) have to fight to stay alive. This is a great premise, but I have to admit that Mom and Dad doesn't quite stick the landing. After introducing the concept, it fails to do anything innovative with it. Still, it's more than worth seeing to watch Cage unleash that patented Cage Rage, shouting and shrieking as he smashes shit in his way.  

Matt: Do I sound crazy if I say I wish Mom and Dad actually "went for it" more with the parents killing children concept? Brian Taylor's film makes brilliant use of memeable Cage and Blair, but coming from one-half of the creators of Crank - along with multiple competing "violence against children" films that *do* push full-throttle - Mom and Dad is a tad safer than I'd like. Still highly watchable, still energetic, just...it backs down.

Stonehearst Asylum

Now Streaming on Netflix

Chris: Brad Anderson burst onto the scene as the director of the sublime indie horror film Session 9, set in a run-down, possibly haunted insane asylum. In 2014, Anderson helmed another film set in an asylum – Stonehearst Asylum, based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. In the late 1800s, a young doctor (Jim Sturgess) arrives at the secluded Stonehearst Asylum, where all is not what it seems. The doctor running the madhouse (Ben Kingsley) is acting strange, and Sturgess' character becomes obsessed with a beautiful asylum patient (played by Kate Beckinsale). Gothic, unpredictable and filled with twists and turns, this unique little film went unremarked upon in 2014 – but you can check it out now.

Matt: I remember passing on this one and regretting it, but only because it released during festival timing. Time to atone for my busy schedule sins it seems.