(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. This week, we turn the page on possibly the worst horror anthology film ever made.)

Shudder is a streaming service focused heavily on horror movies – you should not only already know this but also be a current subscriber – but in addition to offering up old favorites and forgotten gems they’re also in the original programming game. their newest endeavor on that front is a series adaptation of the classic Creepshow (1982) with all new stories. It’s been a mixed bag with only a handful of the twelve segments approaching the original film’s level, but it shows continued promise as it wraps up its first season this week.

The lucky ones among you probably think the streaming series is the third cinematic outing for the property after the original and 1987’s perfectly middling Creepshow 2, but you’d be sadly wrong. Creepshow 3 went straight to video in 2006, and all seven of the people who’ve seen it have either gone mad or gone missing. That’s probably a fact. I’ve never been one to leave well enough alone, though, so rather than avoid a movie with reportedly no redeeming values I instead sought it out.

And I’ve now seen Creepshow 3. I would ask you to send help, but I fear it’s too late.

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The Best Horror Movies of the Decade You’ve Never Seen

Best Horror Movies of the Decade You've Never Seen

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. This week we celebrate spooky movie season with a look at the best under-seen horror movies of the decade.)

Horror movies are worth watching year-round, but October and Halloween lend the genre an extra weight as audiences seek out chills and thrills to share with friends late into the night. The rise of streaming sites means an abundance of options are available at our fingertips, and while that’s good news it also means sometimes it’s easier to re-watch a favorite instead of taking a chance on finding something new. But you can find new favorites!

My brother from another set of parents all together, Matt Donato, is putting together a ranking of the decade’s – 2010 to 2019 – best horror movies here at /film, and while only about half of them actually belong on the list (don’t tell Matt I said that) it’s still a fantastic resource. Regular readers of this column, though, know that my aim is to highlight great movies that aren’t typically well-known enough to make those kinds of lists (like 2012’s ridiculously fun Dead Sushi, pictured above) so I’ve done just that and found six terrific horror films from this decade that aren’t among his 100.

Keep reading for a look at some of the best horror movies of the decade that you’ve probably never seen!

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The Best Prison-Set Movies You’ve Never Seen

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. This week we go behind bars for a look at great films that take place in jails, prisons, and other places of involuntary incarceration.)

Most of us will never spend time behind bars, incarcerated for a crime we did or didn’t commit, and that lack of first-hand experience might be part of what makes movies about prison life so popular. They come in all forms and genres from Stephen King-penned (The Shawshank Redemption, 1994) to horror (Prison, 1987) to comedy (The Longest Yard, 1974) to exploitation (The Big Bird Cage, 1972) to action (Boyka: Undisputed, 2016) to the effortlessly engaging and entertaining (Cool Hand Luke, 1967), but not all of them get the attention they deserve.

So consider this a down and dirty primer on some less popular prison movies that are all well worth your time despite their absence from the general conversation.

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(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. This week, we take an unwise look at the sequel to what’s regarded by many to be the worst video game adaptation ever made.)

Film adaptations of video games would kill to get even a sliver of the respect and success currently afforded movies based on comic book superheroes, but instead they’ll have to settle for articles about the apparent impossible nature of making a great one. Why is it so damn difficult bringing a video game to the screen? No one knows for sure, but in 2005 someone invested over $20 million in the hopes that Uwe Boll might be the filmmaker to break the curse with an adaptation of one of the first (and still one of the best) 3rd-person survival horror games.

It’s okay to laugh.

Alone in the Dark is the second of six different video games that Boll has brought to the screen — the others being House of the Dead (2003), BloodRayne (2005), Postal (2007), In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007), and Far Cry (2008) — and its 1% score on Rotten Tomatoes is somehow more embarrassing than a flat zero. (It’s worth noting that the six films have a collective RT score of 21%. That’s not an average, that’s a combined total.) The film bombed in every conceivable way, so of course three years later a sequel was released straight to video. And now, for you, I have watched Alone in the Dark II.

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The Best Fantastic Fest Movies You’ve Never Seen

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. This week we celebrate Fantastic Fest’s 15th anniversary with a look at some of the best films that played over the years that failed to find the audience they deserved.)

As mentioned above – literally just two lines up – this year’s Fantastic Fest Film Festival in Austin, TX is their 15th, and that’s something worth celebrating. It remains one of the best genre festivals in North America thanks to the venue, the fans, and most importantly, the wide variety of movies programmed each year. They play their fair share of bigger movies destined for wide release with the likes of Jojo Rabbit and Knives Out opening and closing this year’s fest, but the magic is in the far smaller titles.

The fest programs films from around the world and across genres, and while some eventually find their way to a proper US release – Rubber (2010) is about a sentient, homicidal tire and is available on Blu-ray! – just as many are rarely (if ever) seen on these shores again. As a big fan of genre films (horror, action, thrillers, dark comedy, etc) I’ve been introduced to numerous films and filmmakers over the years thanks to Fantastic Fest. Keep reading for a look at six of my favorites that never quite found the eyeballs and acclaim they deserve.

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(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. This week’s entry takes a bite out of a sequel to one of the best vampire movies of the past two decades.)

Vampires are something of a ubiquitous presence in horror films, and while there are more than a few brilliant examples both celebrated and more obscure the bulk seem content with offering basic thrills from head to fangs – they suck your blood, they hate Christian iconography, they can multiply with a bite, etc. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (through its numerous incarnations on the screen) cemented the idea of alluring and debonair vampires wooing the unlucky to their sexy doom, and that remains the most common iteration up through the likes of Interview with the Vampire (1994) and Twilight (2008). Plenty of others have gone different routes from the comedic (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 1992) to the artistic (The Hunger, 1983) and the exploitative (Blacula, 1972) to the metaphorical (The Addiction, 1995).

What we don’t get nearly enough of, though, are vampire movies that treat the bloodsucking beasts like the straight-up monsters they are. Forget cool, sexy, and beguiling – sometimes you just want a vampire movie that embraces their visceral nature and delivers sequences of full-on carnage and horror. The best movie to answer that call is David Slade’s 30 Days of Night (2007).

It’s bloody as hell, beautifully shot – that overhead tracking shot is an all-timer – and emotionally horrifying, and if you haven’t seen it (at all or recently) you should probably remedy that. It also received a direct-to-video sequel in 2010 with the redundantly titled 30 Days of Night: Dark Days. Does it live up to the original’s high standards or does it crumble to dust before our eyes?

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The Dark Crystal Age of Resistance and Jim Henson's Vision

1982’s The Dark Crystal makes its intentions and credentials clear from the very start. Narration sets up a dense history of a fractured world as we’re treated to grand visuals of an ominous landscape and a group of villainous creatures out of step with the planet around them. The wizards at Jim Henson’s studio create the unfolding world through painstakingly detailed artistry, and every living thing on the screen is brought to wondrous life with puppetry. The film wasn’t the hit it deserved to be, but the thirty-seven years since have seen it become a beloved cult favorite.

A follow-up of some kind has been in various stages of development for years now, but it took Netflix being an interested party to see it become a reality. Both the streaming giant and The Jim Henson Company toyed with its return being a CG animated experience (both in part and in full) before making the brilliant but incredibly risky decision to honor the original film and complete their own project – a ten-episode prequel series called The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance – using puppets and practical effects (with minimal CG assists).

The risk paid off, and the series is a glorious success capturing both the tone and content of Henson’s original film while telling its own story with characters new and old. Its desire and effort to revisit the overall feeling of The Dark Crystal was a big gamble across the board, but the risk is most evident in three areas – the series employs a dense narrative that both challenges and respects the audience, it doubles down on its embrace of darkness and death, and it commits to prioritizing puppetry and practical effects.

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Sequels aren’t a new invention, but more than a century after what was probably the very first one (Is the Elephant Still Dead?, 1904, Edison Studios) they’ve grown to become fairly reliable sources of profit. They frequently get a bad reputation even before release, but as with remakes and mother-in-laws they’re rarely as terrible as some people suggest. 2019 has already seen the theatrical release of twenty-nine sequels, and a whopping twenty of them came out this summer.

That’s twenty sequels opening across the four months from May 3rd through August 30th, and if that seems like a lot that’s because it is. Studios and distributors may have thought there was safety in numbers, but even a cursory glance at the end of summer results reveals that sometimes the only sure things in life are Disney and John Wick. Quite a few of the sequels that don’t fall under one of those umbrellas left Hollywood accountants sweating this summer for reasons that don’t involve the heat.

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The second season of Netflix’s Mindhunter may have taken two years to arrive, but those of us who’ve already burned through all nine episodes know that it was well worth the wait. Sure, the subplot involving Bill Tench’s (Holt McCallany) adopted hellspawn feels out of place, and yes, Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) gets shafted on screen time and relevance, but the series as a whole remains a mesmerizing watch. Sharp writing and fantastic performances are a big part of the show’s success, but as is often the case with visual mediums the direction is key.

David Fincher returns as one of the show’s driving forces – he directed four episodes of the first season, three this time around, and is responsible for setting the show’s precise late 70s tone – and he’s joined by Andrew Dominik (Killing Them Softly) who helms two. The season’s final four episodes, though, are directed by Carl Franklin, and while his work aligns with Fincher’s (and show creator Joe Penhall’s) series vision, it also shows a filmmaker working with concepts and conceits already well established within his filmography.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

The Hunt Betty Gilpin

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. This week’s column is a response to the recent shelving of a movie that’s been made previously many, many times before.)

As you’ve undoubtedly heard, a studio film scheduled for nation-wide release was recently pulled from Universal’s schedule in response to a tweet by the president and a vocal outcry by conservative pundits and followers. The detractors are misinformed as to the point of The Hunt (2019?) – and they seem to be equally oblivious as to how these films end (ie the intended targets defeat the merciless killers) – but the bigger head-scratcher is their general obliviousness that the film is just the latest variation in a long line of adaptations of “The Most Dangerous Game.”

Richard Connell’s acclaimed short story was published in 1924, and its tale of a man captured by a mad aristocratic sportsman and hunted as the most challenging prey quickly caught the public’s attention. The first adaptation for the screen arrived eight years later, and many more followed both official and unofficial including John Woo’s ridiculously fun Hard Target (1993), the soft-ish-core porn of The Suckers (1972), the Rutger Hauer-starring Surviving the Game (1994), and the gloriously bonkers Turkey Shoot (1982).

You know those, though, so I’m here to introduce some entertaining and/or engaging examples that you’ve probably missed over the years. The connective line between them is that, unlike a slasher where a killer stalks and kills unknowing victims, these Game riffs see people target and alert their prey for the clear intention of enjoying a hunt. So keep reading for the best “adaptations” of The Most Dangerous Game that you’ve probably never seen.

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