The Wonderful World of Dismemberment

There used to be a television show called The Wonderful World of Disney, where a kid could see old Disney cartoons and live action films. We now have Disney Plus, which I have a free subscription to for six months because my husband got a new phone. But I’d trade Disney Plus for a horror channel that had as much old content as Disney has. About the best streaming service for horror is Shudder (we also have a six-month free subscription because of the phone thing), but it doesn’t have a lot of selection of older films, and I’m just not interested in their exclusive content. I do thank them for the quality of the prints of the movies they show. And I also thank them for all of the Giallo films they have. Finally, I thank them for showing my favorite folk horror film, Eyes of Fire. I appreciate Shudder, it just doesn’t have enough stuff that I’m into.

Every October, I’m saddened when I can’t find a streaming service or TV channel that’s going to meet my need to have a good horror movie marathon. TCM used to be my main supplier, but I haven’t had cable in years and TCM has kind of lost its oomph somehow… and even though we’re well past October now… I still want more old horror movies to watch!

So, I’m imagining my perfect (imaginary) horror streaming service, featuring a month-long Shocktober marathon, featuring good horror films that haven’t been shown to death.

From America, we have Don’t Go To Sleep, a made-for-television movie that starts cheesy, then ends up suspenseful, scary, and ultimately heartbreaking. A family that’s lost a daughter moves into a new house. The surviving daughter starts seeing and hearing things…

From Canada, we have an English language Asian-horror-film-style movie called They Wait. I’ll warn you, it’s not the scariest thing around. And it’s no “Pontypool” in terms of originality, but the story of a mother trying to free her son from evil spirits is engaging and you root for the mother and child.

From Mexico, we have Poison for the Fairies, the story of a toxic friendship between a little psycho-bitch in the making and the poor little gal who she manipulated/forced into being her friend. Some people think that Mexico horror is just a bunch of luchadores and bad special effects, but Mexican horror has some real masterpieces that have nothing to do with wrestling masks. From The Black Pit of Dr. M to La Tia Alejandra, these films have a truckload of imagination and unique imagery. The maestro of Mexican horror is Carlos Enrique Taboada, who I call “Mexico’s answer to Mario Bava.” I mean this as the ultimate compliment.

From England, I’m going with Dark Places from the ‘70s. It’s the best film Hammer never made. A man buys a house… and the past starts replacing the present. Christopher Lee (!) and Joan Collins (!) are in it, but their relationship is disturbingly FUBAR. (Park says: “Jane Birkin is also prominently featured in it.”)

From Scandinavia, we have a low budget 2011 film called Marianne, about a man whose life and sanity go straight to hell after his wife dies. Yes, it’s a little slow, but the characters are likeable, and the supernatural mystery is compelling.

From Italy, I’m going with Fulci’s The Psychic. Yeah, I know, Fulci is really very well-known and The Psychic isn’t as graphic as his other films, but if you’re a Fulci fan and you want to hook your on the fence friends on his work, The Psychic is the way to go. Believe me, I know. That’s how my husband’s brilliant film nerd cousin got me to watch Fulci.

This large animal isn't actually a horse skeleton, but if you've seen the Blind Dead films, you'll understand why it's close enough to be here anyway.
This large animal isn’t actually a horse skeleton, but if you’ve seen the Blind Dead films, you’ll understand why it’s close enough to be here anyway.

From Spain, The Return of the Blind Dead. This film is essentially John Carpenter’s 1980 film The Fog, but The Return of the Blind Dead came first. Yes, it’s true that Carpenter’s film has the terrific cinematography and the great performances, but The Return of the Blind Dead has just as many scares, perhaps more.

From India, I’m going with one of the most imaginative horror films I’ve ever seen, called 13B. A very nice, likeable family pools their resources and buys a condo together. When pictures of deities start falling from the wall of the shrine room, you say to yourself, “They picked the wrong condo.” Then the film gets really imaginative. I don’t want to spoil the fun, so all I’ll say is, “Best use of a TV set since Videodrome, although not graphic or anything…”

From Japan, The Peony Lantern. A schoolteacher falls for the wrong woman and loses more than his heart. It’s a lovely film, very dreamlike. Might be too gentle for modern horror fans, but it’s spooky.

From South Korea, Hansel and Gretel, a story about a man that has a car accident, is saved by some children, who take him to their house…and seem very hesitant to let him leave. Crazy film. It is by turns darkly comedic, a little disgusting (although nothing explicit), suspenseful, heartbreaking, and it even has a satisfying ending. Now, some say this film is style over substance, but I never fail to be impressed by the imagination involved.

Finally, we have Dorm from Thailand. Dorm gets lost in the shuffle a lot because, well, it’s not exactly, uh, scary. (Park says: “It does have a ghost in it, though.”) I call it a Thai version of Stand by Me, since it does an excellent job of showing what life and friendships are like amongst boys slowly becoming young men. (Park says: “Except that it’s way better than Stand By Me.”) Dorm is an honest, well-done film.

Hope that I’ve mentioned a few films that you haven’t seen mentioned over and over again. As a horror fan, I know I’m always looking for a hidden gem, so I assume you are, too. Check them out, if you feel like it.

And, if you know of a hidden gem, tell me about it. I’m always on the lookout for that film that only a few people know about…