Netflix Watch Instantly’s Best Horror

26 10 2010

Netflix’s list of titles available for instant viewing continues to grow. Their horror selections run the gamut from the praiseworthy to the raze-worthy. I’ve compiled a list of a few of my favorites.

Zombies: The Last Man on Earth 1964
Zombies are great entertainment. Those shambling hordes fueled by an insatiable hunger for human flesh leave us wondering no only about our own lives but also about what kind of life we’re living. You might be familiar with 2009’s Horror/Comedy Zombieland (also available for Instant Viewing on Netflix) but how many of you have seen 1964’s The Last Man on Earth? Inspired by Richard Matheson’s novel “I Am Legend”, The Last Man on Earth remains not only the most faithful in a long list of adaptations (including Omega Man and I am Legend) but also one of the most disturbing. With a fantastic performance by Vincent Price, this movie will leave you thinking hard about what it means to be human. Trivia: The vampires of the novel and their on-film counterparts in this movie became the inspiration for George Romero’s zombies in Night of the Living Dead.

more movies after the break

Horror-Comedy: An American Werewolf in London 1981
If you, like me, are a huge fan of the juxtaposition of horror and comedy then you’d be remiss if you did not check out the master of this niche genre: An American Werewolf In London. Landis, fresh from his work on Animal House and Blues Brothers, keeps the action frenetic and the delivery deadpan. You’ve never been so unsure of whether to scream or guffaw. More often than not what comes out is a frightening amalgam of both. This movie has it’s own healthy dose of body horror as well as an academy award for make-up, issued the same year that the category was created. Also, before you leave werewolves behind entirely don’t forget to check out the first werewolf movie

Torture Porn/J-Horror: Audition 1999
This movie is unique and terrifying and full of squick. If you can make it through the first hour and a half, which is almost entirely devoid of anything gory or horror related, the last thirty minutes are a wild roller-coaster ride of torture porn. kiriii, kiriii, kiriii

Body Horror: The Fly 1986
Who can forget Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986). I wish I could, and yet, it’s influence shows that remakes can be terrifying and effective in spite of the necessity of rehashing old material. Cronenberg is the undisputed master of body horror and this movie is an excellent example why. Check out the original while you’re trying to keep you lunch down: The Fly 1958

1970‘s: The Exorcist 1973
There’s a reason The Exorcist is a classic, and it’s not just the pea soup. This film digs deep into our crippling fear of the unknown and the unseen. The performances are impressively ominous and nuanced and the special effects were like nothing seen at the time. At times the film can be so dark and oppressive, it’s impossible to imagine a positive outcome. If demonic possession and Catholic exorcism are your thing you’ll not find a better film.

Roger Corman: The Masque of the Red Death 1964
No horror list would be complete without a Roger Corman connection, and what could be better than a Roger Corman/Vincent Price/Edgar Allen Poe film? A Roger Corman/Vincent Price/H.P. Lovecraft film of course. But, since nothing like that exists we’ll just have to content ourselves with The Masque of the Red Death (1964). This delightfully campy adaptation of not one, but two Poe stories features Vincent Price doing what he does best: laughing ominously and grinning menacingly. While the plot features a heavy dose of Satanism, it’s the infectious contagion elements that really makes this the kind of film that leaves you feeling queasy and uncertain afterwards.

Classics: Nosferatu 1929, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1919
Both of these films serve as pioneers for the horror genre as well as cinema. Is it any wonder that some of the oldest films still watched today are horror movies? On “The Cabinet”, Roger Ebert said: “A case can be made that “Caligari” was the first true horror film. There had been earlier ghost stories and the eerie serial “Fantomas” made in 1913-14, but their characters were inhabiting a recognizable world. Caligari creates a mindscape, a subjective psychological fantasy. In this world, unspeakable horror becomes possible.”

Lovecraftian: From Beyond 1986, The Call of Cthulhu 2005
Director Stuart Gordon and actor Jeffery Combs reunited after the success of Re-Animator to make an adaptation of another H.P. Lovecraft short story. Their results were “From Beyond” (1986). Using Lovecraft’s short story of the same title with a healthy dose of eroticism and body horror, Gordon managed to release a film that was both campy, horrific and an impressive follow-up to Re-Animator. If only we could say the same for Robot Jox

The Call of Cthulhu (2005) was made as a homage, not only to the most famous of Lovecraft’s work but also to silent film. It is impressive what a few non-professional movie makers can accomplish with time, knowledge and lots of work. If you ever wondered what Lovecraft’s work would have been like had it been adapted by Hollywood in the 1920’s, this film is for you.

Look for their follow-up, The Whisperer in Darkness. It’s a “talkie”, coming soon.

Consolation Category
I know that not everyone has a Netflix account.  Whether it be a matter of personal choice or a financial decision, we here at Clash of the Queues understand and applaud your troglodytic devotion to antiquated and passe forms of entertainment.  We’ve found some films for you to watch, free from any commitment or membership on your part:

From Beyond

Night of the living Dead

That’s all I’ve got for now. I realize that I might not have named your favorite Watch Instantly horror movie. I thought I’d save some for next year.




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