Netflix Random Five: Halloween

Lament the lack of new releases all you want: as of right now there are 899 titles available for instant streaming on Netflix in the “Horror” genre. There's a lot of amazingly bad looking stuff on there of course, but for every Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned, there's at least one Vincent Price or Bela Lugosi movie to be found.

Under the weight of such a diverse catalog, my plans for a nice little list of the best Instant Watchables for Halloween quickly devolved. Every glance at the films on offer seemed to lead to a new question. What about all the old Universal Studios monsters? What about Asian horror? What about zombies?

So here's what I've ended up with: a meager, unranked list of five of my favorite Halloween-ish movies available for streaming right now from the depths of Netflix, with an intentional avoidance of better-known fare (Evil Dead, Scream, etc). With that, and the above questions, in mind: discuss, dissent, add to the list! And happy halloween!

The Fog (1980) Though not nearly as popular (or as good) as 1978's Halloween, John Carpenter's The Fog is still totally worth a watch. Even in spite of this synopsis: the residents of a small coastal town defend themselves against a persistent fog bank that carries ghostly/bloodthirsty/faceless pirate-ish guys within it. Sounds awfully goofy, but Carpenter is as solid a filmmaker as they come, and this thing gets as tense as his best and better known work. Notice how selective he is about when and when not to pop in that creepy score.

Deep Red (1975) A major influence on Halloween, the granddaddy of all slasher pictures, Dario Argento's masterpiece follows a pianist (David Hemmings) investigating the murder of his psychic neighbor. It drags and droops in spots, but the sound, colors and atmosphere of it all is gripping. The version available for streaming was less-than-expertly dubbed into English from the original Italian, which takes a bit of getting used to.

The Perfume of the Lady in Black (1974) This is one of those rare titles where you get a good sense of the situation by glancing at the Netflix member reviews: several four and five-star ratings, along with several lines like “what the hell was this movie about?”. I can't quite answer that either, but I can confidently say, for better or worse, that Perfume is even weirder than Deep Red, with half the blood and twice the sex. It's essentially the story of a fragile girl, played by the one and only Mimsy Farmer (there could only possibly be one Mimsy Farmer, right?), who falls face-first into madness.

The Cat and the Canary (1927) I'm a sucker for haunted house movies, and this is the primordial one. In it, a hairy-pawed killer creeps around an old mansion full of family riches and greedy potential-heirs, and tries to strangle his way into some money. The Hollywood debut of German Expressionist director Paul Leni (Waxworks), this silent is thoroughly entertaining and remarkably atmospheric, even if it is a little heavy on the comic relief and light on the actual scares.

The Fly (1986) In The Fly, one of David Cronenberg's most famous pictures, the consistently strange Jeff Goldblum plays a consistently strange scientist experimenting with teleportation. Geena Davis is his reporter girlfriend who watches it all go wrong. Extremely gross and just as funny, The Fly is the blackest of black comedies, with a painfully tragic edge. The fact that he cast Goldblum in this role is all the proof I need of Cronenberg's genius. No one on earth delivers lines the way that guy does.

entered on 10/27/11 at 05:13 AM | read comments »

Cutting Room for October 27

  • It’s always a good time in Omaha when native son Alexander Payne releases a new movie, but leave it to Film Streams ( to throw a full-on party for it. That’s right, on Nov 20th, there’s gonna be a “Waikiki Party” at The Slowdown (! Payne himself will be there to celebrate his new film, The Descendants, and for $75 you can buy a package that includes admittance to the shindig along with a priority reservation for a screening of the film afterwards. Sounds like it’s time to wash and press my favorite Hawaiian shirt and dry clean my grass skirt.   
  • Department stores usually get all the fun of heavily promoting the Christmas season immediately after the first leaf falls from a tree. Well, guess what, I want to jump the gun, too! So I’ll tell you now, and likely remind you again later, that the Dundee Theatre ( is planning on cramming our collective stockings with a double lump of awesome this year. First, on Dec 9th and 10th at midnight, you can catch Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, which is nowhere near as Burl Ives-innocent as the title suggests. Look no further than the R rating for “nudity and language” for proof. Then, on Dec 16th and 17th at midnight and on the 17th and 18th at 10 a.m., the theater is showing Santa’s Cool Holiday Film Festival, which features joyful cartoons and the deliriously fantastic cult classic Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. I may not get my shopping done early, but at least I can check “promote demented holiday entertainment” off my Yuletide “to-do” list!

Cutting Room provides breaking local and national movie news … complete with added sarcasm. Send any relevant information to Check out Ryan on Movieha!, a weekly half-hour movie podcast (, catch him on the radio on CD 105.9 ( on Fridays at around 7:30 a.m. and on KVNO 90.7 ( at 8:30 a.m. on Fridays and follow him on Twitter (

entered on 10/26/11 at 08:07 AM | read comments »

Movieha - Omaha’s Movie Podcast!

Hey there eager listeners. Sorry for the delay in posting this here but we had some disagreements with our technology this week. We were all "post this" and the internets were all "um, you should shut up" and we were all "we're the boss of you, machine" and the internets were all "that's what you think." This went that way for awhile, but eventually, man won! So now you can dump it into your ear holes and soak up the goodness. Listen away and meet me on the other side for the trailers we mention!

On Your Radar: The Divide

We've got a huge...let's call it passion...for postapocalyptic movies. This one looks to be positively epic and creepy. That's exactly how I like my apocalypse.

Netflix Roulette: Splinterheads

I don't have much to say about this one, other than we had a reader suggest it. And as we've always said: You recommend it, we'll watch it. No matter matter what...



That's it for this week. Thanks again for all your support! Please sign up for our RSS feed HERE, download our podcasts and rave about us in the comments section of iTunes HERE, follow us on Twitter HERE, and become a fan of us on Facebook HERE! You can also listen to our bit we do for KVNO radio HERE.

And as always, email any comments and concerns to And remember, when you comment about us in any of these formats, you are INSTANTLY awarded 10 cool points on your permanent record.

entered on 10/25/11 at 04:37 PM | read comments »

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