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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Movies At Dog Farm Presents: Noteworthy On Netflix - 8/22/13

Noteworthy On Netflix banner

     Since we've been revisiting some neglected regular features recently, it seemed like a good time to take another look at the movies available on Netflix streaming.  These are by no means the only worthy genre movies on Netflix, just a sampling of movies that I'm familiar with that I think might otherwise be overlooked.  I've included a couple of newer releases this time that I've yet to watch because I was pleasantly surprised to find them available already.

     Availability changes often, but all of the following titles were available to stream from Netflix at the time of this posting.  The genre listed after the title (Documentary, Horror, Comedy, Foreign, Action & Adventure,  or Sci-Fi & Fantasy) describes where you'll find each movie in your onscreen groupings.  Try doing a manual search if one seems to be missing.

     If you have recommendations of your own, please share in the Comments section below.  You can check out a trailer for each entry by clicking the title.


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The Bay (2012) posterThe Bay (2012)
Horror, Sci-Fi & Fantasy / 1hr25min / R / HD

     Veteran director Barry Levinson said this depiction of a deadly outbreak of mutated isopods was 80% true.  If so, we have yet another great reason to stay out of the water.

     Anchored by a great deal of 100% true factual information regarding the pollution of the Chesapeake Bay, Levinson's eco-horror makes effective use of the found footage conceit to lend credence to his fictional narrative.  The fact that such an outbreak isn't entirely implausible makes for a genuinely creepy and compelling thriller.  Watch this and then Google search images of the real-life beasties this story is based upon.  I guarantee you'll be skeeved out.

     The Bay slipped beneath a lot of radars, but it's easily one of my favorite genre movies of the last year or so.

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Antiviral (2012) posterAntiviral (2012)
Sci-Fi & Fantasy / 1hr47min / NR / HD

     Regulars here at the Dog Farm know of my affinity for the films of director David Cronenberg, so I was thrilled when I heard his son Brandon was tackling thematically similar material for his directorial debut.  Antiviral tells of a celebrity obsessed near future when customers pay to be injected with pathogens collected from ill celebrities in a bid to feel an intimate connection with the stars they admire.

     Icky, yes, but Cronenberg effectively examines this notion with an appropriately cold and clinical eye.  Clearly, he's his father's son.  Watch Antiviral in the company of someone with whom you wish to swap bodily fluids, and you probably won't be in the mood afterwards.

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Mad Monster Party (1967)Mad Monster Party (1967)
Comedy, Horror / 1hr34min / NR / Standard

     What do you get when you mix Rankin/Bass stop motion "Animagic", the voice talents of Boris Karloff and Phyllis Diller, and character designs by EC Comics artist Jack Davis?  Well, you get the gloriously dated and infectiously fun creature feature Mad Monster Party.  It's mild enough for the kiddies, and the grown-ups will get a kick out of hearing Karloff - not Bobby "Boris" Pickett - croon his own musical number.  This monster rally is a no-brainer for Halloween, and it was a well kept secret to me until only a few years ago. 

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Errors Of The Human Body (2013) thumbnailErrors Of The Human Body (2013)
Foreign, Sci-Fi & Fantasy / 1hr42min / NR / HD

     Here's one of those recent releases I was surprised to find streaming already.  I've not seen Errors Of The Human Body yet, but haunted genetics researchers and lethal viruses sound promising.  This made a splash at Montreal's Fantasia Festival as well as Austin's Fantastic Fest while touring the festival circuit last year, with many critics singling out an impressive performance by star Michael Eklund.  Love that title . . .

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[Rec] 3 poster thumbnail[Rec] 3: Genesis (2012)
 Foreign, Horror / 1hr20min / R / HD

     I'll cop to being disappointed with [Rec] 3: Genesis when I first saw it last year, but I now realize I was judging this second sequel to a harrowing original as the movie I wanted it to be, not the movie it is.  While it still exists in the same world as the first two movies, [Rec] 3 drops the handheld camera conceit utilized in the first two after only twenty minutes or so.  It then becomes a more traditional horror movie that's still more entertaining than most.  Had [Rec] 3 gone by any other name, it probably would have been more warmly received by horror fans, myself included.  Hey, everyone loves Halloween III: Season Of The Witch now, right?

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Super (2011) poster thumbnail Super (2011)
Action & Adventure, Comedy / 1hr36min / R / HD

     James Gunn wrote and directed this tonally odd movie about Frank Darbo (Rainn Wilson) assuming the heroic identity of The Crisom Bolt and later taking on Libby (Ellen Page) as his sidekick Boltie.  Sounds a bit like Kick Ass, huh?  Don't be fooled.
 
     Super takes an often disturbing look at the psychosis that underlies the compulsion to fight crime as a costumed superhero.  It also addresses - finally - the largely unexamined sexual component of a hero's relationship with his sidekick.  Had Gunn not allowed his bad guys to become so cartoonishly broad (his Troma roots are showing) he could have had a grim and pessimistic winner.  As it is, Super is a flawed but fascinating spin on the superhero origin story that still deserves more exposure than it's gotten.

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YellowBrickRoad poster thumbnail
YellowBrickRoad (2010)
Horror / 1hr40min / R / HD

    Ambiguity has its place in the movies, but there's a fine line between "ambiguous" and "obtuse for the sake of being obtuse".   YellowBrickRoad has a great setup - the best thing about it, so I won't ruin it here - but it ultimately becomes so frustratingly vague that it's hard to still care much by the time it meanders to its spectacularly unsatisfying denouement.

     Why am I recommending it then?  Well, that great setup as well as a haunting, off kilter tone save it from being a total loss, and it's hard to fault the filmmakers for obviously striving to make something a little different.  I'd be curious to hear how it strikes others.  Movies are a visual medium, and much of what I saw in YellowBrickRoad has stuck with me.  That's gotta count for something.

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The Devil's Rock (2011) poster thumbnail
The Devil's Rock (2011)
Horror / 1hr26min / R / HD

     I pretty much said all I have to say about The Devil's Rock here.  It's a solid little horror movie that aims a bit higher than most.  It's not the campy shlockfest that the unfortunate key art to the left suggests.  The Devil's Rock is a good one for the wee hours of the morning.

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The Last Will And Testament Of Rosalind Leigh poster thumbnail
The Last Will And Testament Of Rosalind Leigh (2012)
Horror / 1hr20min / NR / HD

     . . . and here's yet another pithy entry, since The Last Will And Testament Of Rosalind Leigh is the other movie on this list that I haven't watched yet but was surprised to find streaming already.  Written and directed by Rue Morgue Magazine founding editor and president Rodrigo Gudino, it seems to be dividing viewers right down the middle.  I usually find that movies with sharply divided critical response are worth a watch if only because that's pretty much a guarantee that at least it's not vanilla.  Gudino has been stumping for this in the pages of Rue Morgue for a long while now - it's the cover story this month - so my curiosity is piqued.

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Galaxy Of Terror (1981) thumbnail
Galaxy Of Terror (1981)
Sci-Fi & Fantasy / 1hr21min / R / Standard

     Yes, this is that Galaxy Of Terror, the Roger Corman production that's home to the infamous trimmed-to-avoid-an-X "Taaffe O'Connell raped by a twelve foot long maggot" scene.  If that's not enough to make it a must see, check out the B movie cast to die for:  Erin "Joanie Cunningham" Moran, Ray "Mr. Hand" Walston, Robert "Freddy Kruger" Englund, and Sid "Captain Spaulding" Haig.  How about the fact that future super director James Cameron was the Second Unit Director and Production Designer?  No?  Geez, people, what more do you need?

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American Scary (2006) thumbnailAmerican Scary (2006)
Documentary /1hr31min / NR / Standard

    American Scary is a documentary about the history and legacy of the horror movie hosts like Zacherley, Svengoolie, and Vampira that once littered the broadcast television landscape.  Filled with interviews and vintage clips, American Scary catalogs nearly sixty horror hosts, as well as providing commentary from talking heads like Forrest J. Ackerman, Bob Burns, Joel Hodgson, and Tom Savini.  Damn, but I love me some horror documentaries!

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John Dies At The End (2012) thumbnailJohn Dies At The End (2012)
Horror, Comedy / 1hr39min / R / HD

     Did I save the best for last?  I had a blast with John Dies At The End, although the person I watched it with thought it was a huge waste of time.  She's wrong, of course.

     Admittedly, though, I have a huge appetite for the brand of cinematic goulash that director Don Coscarelli serves up so well.  If Phantasm V is never going to happen - and why isn't it? - I'd be happy to make due with a second chapter in this universe.  John Dies At The End was the first movie I'd seen in a long while that made me think, "I'd really like to see a sequel to that."  Fingers crossed.

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Posted by Brandon Early

4 comments:

Carl B said...

Great recap. This reminds me of all the movies I need to stream to get ready for Halloween.

Mad Monster Party--why don't more people comment on this? Is it too dated? Although this aired way before my birth, I think it's as quirky, odd, and endearing as Rudolph...

I must go watch The Bay and Rec3.

Brandon Early said...

Mad Monster Party is pretty dated, Carl. We're showing our age. lol

Watch The Bay first. [Rec]3 is more of a qualified recommendation.

I'll be back in touch soon about Pre'Ween. Adrienne had a death in the family, and things have been a little hectic here. Did you see the Pre'Ween countdown in the sideboard?

Warden Stokely said...

Hi Brandon
Nice post. Thanks for all the recommendations; you just made my life infinitely easier, busier, but easier. I was going to start with Antiviral, Super and Yellow Brick Road, until I got to AMERICAN SCARY, and John Dies at the End. Ug. Seen Galaxy of Terror a few times, and yes, James Cameron as Second Unit Director and Production Designer? Hell ya, that's what I'm talking about. Will watch American Scary, definitely, and am most intrigued with John Dies at the End. Coscarelli, uh, yah! I figured out how to put your banner on my Fire Stokers page, I hope you don't mind. I had to just use my snipping tool and make a jpeg, since it wasn't it's own image. Until next time, Brandon...Keep those fires stoked.
Warden

Brandon Early said...

Funny you should mention the banner not being an image. I was actually just playing around with some graphics to create a banner. I'm not very good at creating graphics. lol I'm happy to be on the Fire Stokers page. Thanks.