As everyone in the universe is aware by now, Stranger Things is amazing and well worth watching over and over. But maybe you need a break from #TeamBarb and the Demogorgon for a spell. There are some surprisingly awesome genre movies on Netflix right now, and we have some recommendations.
The second Nightmare movie is not exactly scary—it contains Freddy Krueger’s first (of approximately one zillion) pun-propelled wisecrack, as well as a campy scene involving an exploding canary—but it is a surprisingly evocative movie. Its queer subtext, which went largely unnoticed by mainstream audiences in 1985, is unmistakable today.
Mark Patton, the gay actor who played the ostensibly straight teen lead, has spoken about his struggles within the film industry after the movie’s release. But he’s also proud of his moment in history, telling Fangoria in 2013 that he’s pleased to be known as “the first male scream queen.” Frequently referred to as one of the gayest horror films ever, Freddy’s Revenge has a unique place not just in the Nightmare series, but in the genre as a whole. And it’s full of fun stuff, like this:
There are plenty of horror films based on real-life crimes, but this Australian import takes an artful approach to its gruesome subject matter. You think you’re watching a gritty indie about a kid who falls in with the wrong crowd—then you realize how very, very wrong that crowd is.
Hollywood certainly took notice of this 2011 chiller, even if it didn’t get much theatrical exposure stateside. Director Justin Kurzel went on to make Macbeth and December release Assassin’s Creed, both starring Michael Fassbender.
Our obsessions with Phantasm and especially Bubba Ho-Tep have been duly noted on io9 before, but Don Coscarelli’s most recent directorial credit is this 2012 mind-meld of comedy, horror, science fiction, and supremely wild drug trips.
Without giving away too much, one of the heroes is a dog, and one of the monsters assembles itself from a freezer full of meat. What’s not to love?
This 2004 supernatural action fantasy is notable for several reasons: It was one of the first FX-laden blockbusters made in post-Soviet Russia; it brought international attention to hometown hero Sergei Lukyanenko’s best-selling source material; and it’s batshit insane.
Vampire batshit insane, even. Timur Bekmambetov’s visual flair eventually led him to Hollywood, where he made Wanted and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, as well as the forthcoming Ben-Hur. He also produced the recent Russia-US collaboration Hardcore Henry.
Korean director Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer) directed this 2006 movie about a disjointed family that must work together to rescue its brightest star—a schoolgirl who is snatched by a rogue river monster. Endearing performances make you actually care about the characters as the stakes rise ever higher, and the script’s digs at the movie’s true villain—the United States—are pointed without being heavy-handed.
Not to be confused with Guillermo del Toro’s animated series, also for Netflix, called Trollhunters, this 2010 faux-doc hails from Norway and is about college kids who stumble into a vast conspiracy involving the not-so-mythical beast.
Comedian Otto Jesperson is a highlight as the title character, a monster expert who spends his days in the forest, just doin’ what needs doin’ to protect people from trolls.
Be warned: Apregnant woman suffers a brutal assault at the beginning of this movie. But all is not what it seems in a movie that is best experienced by watching it without knowing much of anything about it beforehand. Trust, even the trailer is crammed full of misdirection.
If Stranger Things has you feeling nostalgic for kid-centric 1980s science fiction, set aside some time to spend with baby Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix and their DIY spaceship. The plot is mostly very different than Stranger Things, but the vibes do intertwine.
Stake Land is a road movie set in the aftermath of an apocalypse caused not by zombies—as these things often are—but vampires. Director Jim Mickle, who co-wrote with star Nick Damici, brings dusty realism to the film’s dystopian despair, but doesn’t shrink back from hardcore violence. Kelly McGillis has a small but effective role as a badass nun.
As a side note, one of Mickle’s later films, cannibal-family yarn We Are What We Are, is also on Netflix right now if you want to make it a mini-festival.
Mad genius Shane Carruth’s follow-up to Primer did the impossible by making Primer seem completely simple and easy-to-explain by comparison. Upstream Color is the kind of movie you can’t really explain; you just kind of have to watch it and let it envelop you as a visual and an emotional experience.
The fact that it’s on Netflix means you can watch it as often as you want, from the comfort of your couch, with whatever chemical enhancements you choose. Just watch out for those freaky parasites, man.
An experimental documentary about all the strangest conspiracy theories and hidden secrets associated with The Shining, explained in voice-over by the theorists themselves, and illustrated with clips not just from Stanley Kubrick movies, but also works like Creepshow, Jesus Christ Superstar, Schindler’s List, and Demons 2.
A movie on a subject this weird has to be weird itself, and Room 237 fits the bill one hundred percent. Director Rodney Ascher’s 2015 doc on sleep paralysis, The Nightmare, is also a Netflix selection right now, and it takes a similarly unusual approach, using reenactments to explore interviewees’ tales of late-night, dream-borne terrors. (None of them are as scary as The Shining, though.)
Dead Snow is the deliciously gory Norwegian horror comedy about unfrozen Nazi zombies. I repeat: unfrozen Nazi zombies. Why haven’t you watched it yet? I will admit I haven’t watched the sequel, though it is also up on Netflix right now. I just feel like all of my questions about unfrozen Nazi zombies have been answered already. (However, if Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead is a must, some fiend please let me know.)
Because hell in space is the best hell.