With it being the spooky season. We here at SciFiPulse.net thought we’d hit you with a few movie ideas that you can stream either via Amazon, Netflix, or any number of streaming services out there. Indeed there are a lot of horror movies to pick from on these services that will crisscross the entire horror genre. For this feature article. Ian Cullen, Nicholas Yanes, and, horror aficionado John Kenneth Muir have combined forces to give you one modern horror film as well as a classic from back in the day.
To Kick things off. Nicholas Yanes who lurks in the hallowed halls of SciFiPulse Manor with his trusty chainsaw gives us his picks.
Nicholas Yanes Picks
Old School Pick: Monster Squad
“Wolfman’s got nards!”
The story revolves around a group of misfit kids who share a passion for classic monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the Wolfman, the Mummy, and the Gill-man (better known as the Creature from the Black Lagoon). Their love for these movie monsters motivates them to form their own club called Monster Squad. Early in an ancient amulet that is capable of opening a portal to a dark dimension ends up in their possession.
Unfortunately for them, Count Dracula sets out to get the amulet in order to use its power for evil. it. To accomplish his goal, Dracula gathers other monsters to ally him and they all descend upon the town.
The Monster Squad quickly realizes the gravity of their situation and embarks on a quest to stop Dracula and his monstrous minions. Guided by their knowledge of classic monster lore, the kids must find a way to use the amulet against the creatures of the night. Along the way, they receive unexpected help from Frankenstein’s monster, who has a change of heart and joins their cause.
One of the many things I love about this film is how it blends horror, humor, and heart. Each kid brings their unique skills and personality traits to the group, making them a formidable team against the monsters.
Another thing I still love about this movie is that it gives a lot of character development to the monsters. While they are initially presented as menacing creatures, the story gradually humanizes them, revealing their vulnerabilities and inner conflicts.
On top of all that, the film has some great lines and moments of dialogue.
Patrick: You’re not a virgin are you?
Patrick’s Sister: [shakes her head]
Patrick: No? What do you mean No?
Patrick’s Sister: Well, Steve… but he doesn’t count.
Patrick: DOESN’T COUNT?
New School Pick: The Last Voyage of the Demeter
Without question, The Last Voyage of the Demeter is the best supernatural horror film of the last five years. Destined to become a classic for supernatural horror movie fans, director André Øvredal and writers Bragi F. Schut Jr. and Zak Olkewicz managed to inject new energy into the vampire genre by setting a Dracula story on a shipping vessel in 1897. Additionally, the setting allows for beautiful shots of the ocean juxtaposed with claustrophobia-inducing spaces of the ship.
This is not a film to enjoy with the whole family. It is a film in which animals, children, and grown adults are brutally killed by Dracula as he slowly gets stronger. However, since this film functions as a prequel to Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel “Dracula,” (you might have heard of it; it is pretty popular), none of the characters know that they are facing a vampire. As such, they have no idea how to kill it or protect themselves at first.
In a lesser movie, it would have been frustrating as an audience member to know who the villain is before the characters figure it out, but this tension makes the film more compelling. As audiences we get to voyage with an incredible crew of likable characters as they realize something evil is on the merchant ship Demeter and there is little they can do to stop it.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter is a reminder that Dracula isn’t some supernatural bad boy, he is a monster who sees all humans as prey to play with.
Having founded SciFiPulse back in May of 2001 back when the site operated under the name of CyFyPulse for a brief period of time. Ian Cullen has seen a number of horrors in his time and tends to like films that crisscross between genres as his first pick demonstrates.
Ian Cullens Picks
Old School Pick: Poltergeist (1982)
It took me quite a while to think of a horror movie from back in the day as there are so many great examples to choose from. But I figured the movie Poltergeist was worth a mention because at the time of release. It was somewhat of a game-changer in that I don’t think we’d seen too many movies about Poltergeist prior to this. Produced by Steven Spielberg who also has a writing credit on the film, which was directed by Tobe Hooper. Poltergeist tells the story of the Freeling Family who are living in a fairly new housing development, which is later revealed to have been built on top of an old graveyard. When their young daughter Carol Anne Freeling starts hearing voices coming from the TV when it has no discernable signal. It is first thought to be childish imagination. However, when mysterious things start to happen such as furniture moving on its own. The Freelings begin to get rather concerned, but it isn’t really until the Poltergeist escalates things by taking Carol Ann into their spirit realm that things get a bit fraught.
Desperate to get their daughter back. The Freelings reach out to a group of parapsychologists who are completely blown away by the paranormal phenomena that they witness when they stay the night with the Freelings. Eventually, the lead parapsychologist calls a psychic in who has the ability to clean homes of unwanted spirit entities such as Poltergeist, which they hope will resolve the matter.
To say that this film is a rollercoaster ride of emotion would be a huge understatement. The acting performances from JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson who play Carol Ann’s mother and father are nothing short of brilliant. Bot actors are 100 percent invested in their roles, which really helps sell the storyline of the film. Although she doesn’t have much screen time in this first film of the trilogy. Zelda Rubinstein does a lot with her role of the Psychic lady Tangina, which is pretty amazing given that this film was pretty much her breakout role.
For the time that it was made. This film still holds up pretty well when it comes to the visual effects and it does have its fair share of jump scares. The film is also helped by a brilliant soundtrack from the late Jerry Goldsmith who would go on to become a fan favorite for his work in the Star Trek Franchise.
Now I’ll admit. I rented Poltergeist on Amazon and watched it last night. However, the sequel Poltergeist II: The Other Side is available to stream freely via Amazon’s Freevi Service.
New School Pick: M3GAN
I have to hold my hand on my heart and admit to not really watching a great many horror films as for me it was very much a phase that I got over in my teenage years. However, whenever something interesting catches my attention. I’ll tend to watch it anyway and this is what happened with the movie M3GAN, which was made back in 2022, but hit streaming services in early 2023 as it popped up on Amazon straight from the cinema.
M3Gan tells a fairly scary story about A robotics engineer at a toy company who builds a life-like doll that begins to take on a life of its own. The movie’s plot focuses on the relationship between the doll, which has artificial intelligence and learns at a frightening rate, and the engineer’s young niece who has recently lost her parents in a horrible car accident. When the doll learns about the little girl’s loss it searches the internet about how humans deal with death as a means of trying to help the young girl. But things take a sinister turn when the doll’s mandate to protect the young girl oversteps the mark.
The film has a lot of strong themes going for it and deals with grief when it comes to children losing their parents as well as the very human concerns about what could go wrong with artificial intelligence if it is left unchecked by its human creators.
Produced by Atomic Monster this movie is very current with its exploration of robotics and A.I. and some of the potential horrors that could happen if it is let loose without some sort of moral compass.
Joining us as a special guest for this Halloween-themed article is horror fan and celebrated writer John Kenneth Muir. John having written many books about various styles of horror films as well as producing his own web series and podcast The House Between had the following two picks to share.
Old School Pick: And Soon the Darkness (1970).
At the dawn of the disco decade, Robert Fuest directed one my all time-favorite horror movies, and one I try to watch around Halloween every year: And Soon the Darkness (1970). This underrated classic, written by Terry Nation and Brian Clemens, is an early “road trip gone wrong” terror starring Pamela Franklin as Jane, a British nurse on a bicycle tour of France with her best friend, Cathy (Michele Dotrice). Unfortunately for these two young tourists, there is also a mysterious serial killer stalking the same stretch of isolated road.
In “road trip gone wrong” movies, the protagonists are miles from civilization (and help), without resources, and contending with literal and metaphorical roadblocks such as cultural and language differences. For Cathy and Jane, they had hoped to “keep off the main roads” to see “the real France,” but their desire is stymied by their insurmountable differences from the stony and inscrutable locales, such as a woman at a café who warns them about “the bad road,” or the strange man in sun-glasses who seems to follow them at all turns. And what about the local gendarme, who lives in the station house with a senile old man? And why is that old man always watching the young women?
A bit unusually for a horror movie, the bulk of the terror in And Soon the Darkness occurs during sunlight, building an incredible atmosphere of tension as Jane realizes she is losing the protection and comfort of daylight. And virtually the entire movie is set outdoors on the same small stretch of dangerous road. Cathy vanishes, and Jane is left alone, traversing that lonely bit of rural highway, running back and forth, on that mobius strip of terror.
As per its time period, And Soon the Darkness is naturalistic – no supernatural forces at work, here, just human evil! – and scarily plausible. As the movie reaches its throat-tightening climax, you’ll be gripping your seat with fear and anxiety, and if you go out trick-or-treating for Halloween, on foot, after a viewing you won’t be able to stop thinking about the movie; about what lurks in the bushes, and at the end of the road ahead. The movie currently streams on BFI Player Classics. Make certain you watch the seventies original and not the lousy 2010 remake starring Amber Heard.
New School Pick: Drag Me To Hell
My second horror movie pick for the season and one of more recent vintage is Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell (2009), the horror icon’s return to the horror genre after some time away making his Spider-Man trilogy throughout the early 2000s. Raimi treats all of his over-the-top horror movies, including this supernatural treat, like entertaining magic tricks. His movies divert attention, they misdirect the audience, and they feature show-stopping gimmicks and practical special effects. They make you wonder how the filmmakers accomplished all the trickery and magic, and Drag Me to Hell, like the maestro’s Evil Dead movies, makes the audience vacillate between screams and uneasy laughs.
Drag Me to Hell arrived soon after the arrival of the Great Recession of 2008, and in addition to being a gorefest, serves as a Dickensian morality tale of sorts for the age of business and banking run amok. The film’s young protagonist, Christine (Alison Lohman) wants to advance in her career as a loan officer, but to do so, must demonstrate that she will put the bank and her job above humanity and decency. She must put profit ahead of kindness. Christine does so, denying an old woman, Sylvia Ganush (Lorna Raver) an extension on her home mortgage. The situation escalates and the old woman is humiliated. In revenge, the “gypsy” curses Christine, causing her to be tortured by Lamia, a maniacal demon who, in 72 hours’ time will drag her to Hell.
Like all Raimi movies, Drag Me to Hell features spiky moments (watch out for the goat possession scene!), blood floods, and a cameo by his Oldsmobile Delta 88. But Drag Me to Hell also plays the audience like a piano, building up and dashing our hopes, over and over. The film is a scare-fest and laugh riot but also examines our cultural values in the United States. Christine has to live (or die) with what she has done, and we ask ourselves is she a good person, or a bad person? Does she deserve how she is treated? Did Sylvia Ganush? What would we do in the same situation?
Drag Me to Hell is the real deal, a horror spectacular from one of the genre’s most accomplished directors (and tricksters).
You can read more from John Kenneth Muir at: https://reflectionsonfilmandtelevision.blogspot.com
You can check out his Podcast Series The House Between at: https://housebetween.com
The above are just a few Halloween films that you can stream. If you have anything you feel you’d like to recommend to us. Feel free to do so in the comments below.
For more Halloween fun check out our Halloween Movies To Watch article.