Halloween Streaming Recommendations 2022

Halloween is rapidly approaching, which means many cinephiles & genre nerds out there are currently planning to cram in as many scary movies as they can over the next month. In that spirit, here’s a horror movie recommendation for every day in October from the Swampflix crew. Each title was positively reviewed on the blog or podcast in the past year and is currently available on a substantial streaming service. Hopefully this helps anyone looking to add some titles to their annual horror binge. Happy hauntings!

Oct 1: Scream (1996)

“Having since caught up with virtually all of its reference points in the two decades since I first saw this film as a child, the namedrops now play like adorably clever winks to the camera. In the mid-90s, however, that list was a doorway to a world of horrors I would take mental note of for future trips to the video store. It was essential.” Currently streaming on Showtime.

Oct 2: Ginger Snaps (2000)

“There are plenty coming-of-age horrors in which a teen girl’s earliest experiences with menstruation & sexual desire escalate into bloodlust & supernatural mayhem: Carrie, Teeth, Raw, Jennifer’s Body, etc. This one just holds a special place in my heart for being the first I happened to see, so it’s always my first reference point when I see the pattern repeated.” Currently streaming on Shudder, Peacock, or for free (with ads) on Tubi.

Oct 3: The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976)

“A misandrist horror classic! Plenty of 1970s women-on-the-verge psych thrillers out there where shit-heel men drive women to madness, but few are this committed to their psychosexual terror or bloody revenge.” Currently streaming on Shudder, or for free (with ads) on Tubi.

Oct 4: White of the Eye (1987)

“A knockoff giallo that gets lost in the American desert for a while, then emerges as a sun-dazed erotic thriller. Incredible, unwieldy stuff.” Currently streaming on Shudder, The Criterion Channel, for free (with a library membership) on Hoopla, or for free (with ads) on Tubi.

Oct 5: Demon Seed (1978)

“Belongs to a very special subcategory of classic horror: I saw it parodied on The Simpsons long before I saw the movie itself. I put this one off longer than most, since the premise is so sleazy, but thankfully it’s less focused on the physical act of impregnation than I feared and instead finds a kind of wretched transcendence through retro computer graphics.” Currently streaming for free (with ads) on Tubi.

Oct 6: Hatching (2022)

“A great entry in the Puberty as Monstrous Transformation canon, along with titles like Ginger Snaps, Jennifer’s Body, Teeth, Carrie, etc. Stands out in that crowd by adding an extra layer about mothers living vicariously through their daughters in unhealthy ways. Also achieves a lot on what appears to be a limited budget, leaning into its cheapness to create the kind of plastic world you’d expect to find in a music box.” Currently streaming on Hulu.

Oct 7: Scream 2 (1997)

“It’s easy to downplay the first Scream as a Greatest Hits collection of slasher tropes, so it’s super smart for its sequel to replay exact scenes from it as the tropiest, slasheriest slasher of all time. Every clip from and reference to Stab is brilliant.” Currently streaming on Showtime.

Oct 8: Cronos (1993)

“There’s an extremely 90s-specific visual warmth to this that makes it instantly familiar, recalling cultural touchstones as varied as Tales from the Crypt & Wishbone. I definitely saw it once before in the post-victory glow of Pan’s Labyrinth, but it plays like something I watched hundreds of times on VHS, or heard repeated nightly as a freaky bedtime story.” Currently streaming on The Criterion Channel and HBO Max.

Oct 9: Wishmaster (1997)

“Very much enjoyed this as a child who was technically too young to see it, and glad to see it mostly holds up as a dumb-fun practical gore showcase. Its quality & sensibilities are pretty standard for trashy novelty horrors of its era, but its “Careful what you wish for” evil genie setup allows its imagination to run wild from kill to kill instead of being limited to one kind of monster. Makes total sense as a Wes Craven production, since the nightmare logic of the Elm Street kills works the same way.” Currently streaming for free (with ads) on Tubi and Pluto TV.

Oct 10: The Lawnmower Man (1992)

“Had a lot of fun with this but it really pushed the outer limits of how much bullshit I’m willing to put up with to indulge in the precious Outdated Vintage Tech goofballery I love to see in killer-computer genre movies. Turns out the answer is ‘way too much’.” Currently streaming for free (with a library membership) on Hoopla.

Oct 11: Monkey Shines (1988)

“Romero’s killer helper monkey-movie crawled so The Lawnmower Man could transcend time & space.” Currently streaming on Shudder, Showtime, for free (with a library membership) on Hoopla, or for free (with ads) on Tubi.

Oct 12: Willard (2003)

“My favorite thing about the original Willard is how uncomfortably relatable I found Willard as a character; my favorite thing about this remake is how much Crispin Glover is an absolute freak.” Currently streaming for free (with a library membership) on Kanopy.

Oct 13: Scream 3 (2000)

“A Corman cameo??? Hell yeah. Parker Posey as comedic relief?? Right on. Jay and Silent Bob? Oh, oh no.

Just as much of a mixed bag as the second one, but it’s easy to enjoy the nesting doll effect of the Stab series as this chugs along.” Currently streaming on Showtime.

Oct 14: Deadstream (2022)

“This was a constantly surprising delight, getting huge laughs out of supernaturally torturing a YouTuber smartass with a sub-Ryan Reynolds sense of humor. It effectively does for Blair Witch what Host did for Unfriended, borrowing its basic outline to stage a chaotic assemblage of over-the-top, technically impressive scare gags.” Currently streaming on Shudder.

Oct 15: Malignant (2021)

“Feels like 2021’s The Empty Man: a seemingly well-behaved mainstream horror that takes some wild creative stabs in its go-for-broke third act; both earning instant cult prestige as ‘hidden gems’ despite their robust budgets, thanks to the dysfunction of COVID era distribution. I personally found The Empty Man the more rewarding experience of that pair, but you gotta appreciate these big-budget crowd-bafflers whenever you can find them.” Currently streaming on HBO Max.

Oct 16: The Seventh Curse (1986)

“I normally don’t vibe with Indiana Jones-style international swashbuckling at all, but this Hong Kong action mind-melter hits the exact level of bonkers mayhem I need to get past that genre bias. Overflowing with imagination, irreverence, explosive brutality, and shameless copyright violations in every scene. Far preferable to any actual Indiana Jones film, even if it would not exist without their influence.” Currently streaming on for free (with ads) on Crackle & Plex.

Oct 17: Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell (1968)

“Presented as an alien-invasion creature feature, but really more of an anything-goes descent into chaos in which “the whole world’s gone insane” (mostly as an anti-war metaphor). One of those constantly surprising low-budget novelties where it feels like absolutely anything can happen at any time, while most of the actual imagery between the special effects shots is just a handful of characters debating a plan of action in a single room.” Currently streaming on The Criterion Channel.

Oct 18: Mad God (2022)

“Both a for-its-own-sake immersion in scatological mayhem & an oddly touching reflection on the creative process, the indifference of time, and the cruelty of everything. It’s meticulously designed to either delight or irritate, so count me among the awed freaks who never wanted the nightmare to end.” Currently streaming on Shudder.

Oct 19: Viy (1967)

“The five-minute stretch that makes good on its long-teased witchcraft & devilry—boosted by an importation of Silent Era special effects into a 1960s filmmaking aesthetics—should leave an intense impression on your psyche that overpowers any minor qualms with its build-up. This is a quick, oddly lighthearted folk-horror curio with a fascinating historical context and an eagerness to wow the audience in its tension-relieving climax.” Currently streaming on Shudder, or for free (with ads) on Tubi.

Oct 20: Lisa and the Devil (1973)

“Besides the gorgeous, lustrous cinematography, I will forever treasure this as the only film I know of with a haunted European villa and a haunted plane. I would 1000% watch Lisa descend further into madness in a surreal plane-centric sequel.” Currently streaming on Shudder, or for free (with a library membership) on Kanopy.

Oct 21: The Wailing (2016)

“Expands the rage-virus horror of 28 Days Later into opposing directions of operatic crescendo & goofball slapstick, refusing to be tethered to any one specific meaning or tone and finding abject terror in that ambiguity. An ideal vision of what mainstream horror would routinely look & feel like in a better world.” Currently streaming on Shudder, Peacock, for free (with a library membership) on Kanopy & Hoopla, or for free (with ads) on Tubi.

Oct 22: The Medium (2021)

“In the abstract, a found-footage update to The Exorcist for the 2020s sounds like it would be tedious at best, but this manages to feel freshly upsetting & emotionally engaged while never drifting outside those genre boundaries. Big-scale blockbuster horror on a scrappy indie budget.” Currently streaming on Shudder.

Oct 23: Scream 4 (2011)

“A good argument that this series only thrives with breathing room. The first is still the best, with at least two decades of slasher tradition to catalog and pull apart. 2 & 3 felt thin & rushed by comparison, then this one snaps the whole thing back into shape with another full decade of horror trends to riff on.” Currently streaming on Paramount+, Starz, for free (with ads) on Tubi.

Oct 24: All Cheerleaders Die (2013)

“A delightfully vapid, shockingly cruel horror comedy about undead cheerleaders seeking supernatural revenge on their school’s misogynist football team. Much, much better than its reputation & promotional material suggest, but maybe still dead last on the list of films of its ilk worth prioritizing before you get to it: Heathers, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Ginger Snaps, The Craft, Jennifer’s Body, Sugar & Spice, Jawbreaker, Teeth, Buffy, etc.” Currently streaming for free (with ads) on Tubi.

Oct 25: A Cat in the Brain (1990)

“Really fun, chaotic self-reflection on how the brutality of the horror genre is often flippantly overlooked by cheap-thrill seekers but still takes a toll on our psyches (of which I’m just as guilty as Fulci). Feels like a crude precursor to what Wes Craven would soon be working through in A New Nightmare & Scream, except that it doubles as a Greatest Hits montage of Fulci’s recycled gore gags.” Currently streaming on for free (with a library membership) on Kanopy, or for free (with ads) on Tubi.

Oct 26: The Visitor (1979)

“The greatest sports movie of all time, by which I mean it only briefly pretends to be interested in basketball before indulging in a chaotic mix of aliens, killer birds, and Satanic blood cults (with a little gymnastics & ice-dancing tossed in for balance).” Currently streaming on Shudder, Peacock, for free (with a library membership) on Kanopy & Hoopla, or for free (with ads) on Tubi.

Oct 27: Lifeforce (1985)

“It would have been more than enough for the soul-sucking nudist space vampires to turn Earthlings into exploding dust zombies & blood sacks, but what really made me fall in love is how they start the process by hypnotizing their victims with intense horniness. I’m always a sucker for supernatural erotic menace, so 5 stars; instant fav.” Currently streaming for free (with a library membership) on Hoopla, or for free (with ads) on Tubi.

Oct 28: Return of the Living Dead (1985)

“I need to stop thinking of Dan O’Bannon as the nerd who wrote Alien and start thinking of him as the absolute madman who somehow made Return of the Living Dead & Lifeforce in the same year; two deranged gems I should’ve sought out a lot sooner.” Currently streaming for free (with a library membership) on Hoopla, or for free (with ads) on Tubi.

Oct 29: Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988)

“Besides its obvious charms as a ribald horror comedy about witchcraft & titties, it’s also an expert demonstration of kayfabe in action. Elvira never breaks character, gets billed “as herself”, and continues to work her job as a B-horror hostess even as she gets tangled up in a one-woman war against small-minded small towners.” Currently streaming on Amazon Prime, for free (with a library membership) on Hoopla, or for free (with ads) on Tubi.

Oct 30: Scream (2022)

Stab has become a cultural phenomenon in Scream‘s world, and that world has now entered the era of The Snyder Cut, wherein groups of fanboys feel that the media belongs to them, so they want to course correct back to the ‘original concept; by enacting a new series of murders in Woodsboro to inspire the Stab franchise to return to its roots. It’s not as clever as ‘movies made us do it,’ but it’s just as cohesive.” Currently streaming on Showtime.

Oct 31: WNUF Halloween Special (2013) & The Great Satan (2019) Double Feature

WNUF Halloween Special does a great job in remaining authentic to local 1980s TV broadcasts, but smartly sets its spooky news show in a fantasy world where only a couple commercials are miserably repeated every ad break instead of all of them.

The Great Satan doubles as both an unrelenting flood of metal-as-fuck vintage ephemera and as a sickening overview of Christian America’s moral rot, especially in the Satanic Panic era. If you can stomach a little edgelord pranksterism, it’s wonderfully fucked up.

Together, they make the perfect Halloween Night VHS nostalgia mind-melter.

WNUF Halloween Special is currently streaming on Shudder, and The Great Satan is currently streaming for free (with ads) on Tubi.

-The Swampflix Crew

Lagniappe Podcast: Wishmaster (1997)

For this lagniappe episode of the podcast, Boomer, Brandon, and Alli discuss the evil-djinn special effects horror Wishmaster (1997).

00:00 Welcome

04:28 Barbarian (2022)
10:25 Arabesque (1966)
12:20 Dagon (2001)
14:44 Even the Wind is Afraid (1968)
16:45 Tubi
23:33 Hellraiser (1987)
31:35 Pearl (2022)
36:30 The Silent Twins (2022)

40:25 Wishmaster (1997)

You can stay up to date with our podcast through SoundCloudSpotifyiTunesStitcherTuneIn, or by following the links on this page.

-The Lagniappe Podcast Crew

Lagniappe Podcast: Jacob’s Ladder (1990)

For this lagniappe episode of the podcast, Boomer, Brandon, and Alli discuss Adrian Lyne’s post-Vietnam War psych horror Jacob’s Ladder (1990).

00:00 Welcome

02:36 Power of the Dog (2021)
06:00 Vampires (1998)
07:30 The Fog (1980)
11:35 Funny Pages (2022)
16:20 The Hobbit: A Long-Expected Autopsy (2018)
19:10 Victoria & Abdul (2017)
22:45 Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022)
25:50 A Serious Man (2009)

33:30 Jacob’s Ladder (1990)

You can stay up to date with our podcast through SoundCloudSpotifyiTunesStitcherTuneIn, or by following the links on this page.

-The Lagniappe Podcast Crew

Movie of the Month: All Cheerleaders Die (2013)

Every month one of us makes the rest of the crew watch a movie they’ve never seen before, and we discuss it afterwards. This month Brandon made Alli, Boomer, and Britnee watch All Cheerleaders Die (2013).

Brandon: I’m a little baffled by the lack of a visible cult following for Lucky McKee’s 2013 zom-com All Cheerleaders Die – a delightfully vapid, shockingly cruel horror comedy about undead cheerleaders seeking supernatural revenge on their high school’s misogynist football team.  Its reputation and promotional materials make it look like an unwatchable embarrassment only fit for gore-hungry teens who haven’t yet seen the superior titles of the teen-girl-revenge horror cannon.  And yes, the biggest hurdle All Cheerleaders Die has to clear on its path to cult-classic status is that it’s dead last on the list of films of its ilk worth prioritizing before you get to it: Heathers, Drop Dead Gorgeous, The Craft, Ginger Snaps, Jennifer’s Body, Jawbreaker, Sugar & Spice, Buffy, Teeth, Carrie, etc., etc., etc.  That’s great company to be in no matter where you fall in the high school clique hierarchy, though, and I’d love to see this overlooked, over-the-top trash gem cited among those better-respected peers more often.

All Cheerleaders Die starts with faux-documentary footage that anthropologizes the high school cheerleaders’ social rituals as queen-bitch rulers of the school.  Our outsider-goth protagonist intends to infiltrate, expose, and tear down the institution of popular-girl supremacy by joining the squad and sabotaging them from the inside.  Only, once she makes the team, she finds it to be an unexpected heartfelt bonding experience . . . especially after they’re all murdered by the school’s meathead jocks, then collectively rise from the grave to avenge their own deaths.  The film is a tonally chaotic mix of campy bitch-sesh dialogue, disturbing jabs of misogynist violence, high-femme lesbianism, vintage zombie gore, and supernatural goofballery involving magic crystals & spells – all lightyears away from the grimy digicam footage that establishes its early tone.  It’s a riot.

It’s been nearly a decade since All Cheerleaders Die floundered in theaters, and it’s yet to leave much of a cultural footprint among the genre nerds & edgy teens who’d likely love it.  In my ideal world, it would be leaving blood stains on midnight movie screens & sleepover TV sets on a weekly basis.  So, how did it go over with the rest of the Swampflix crew?  Does the cult start here, or did y’all find it to be just as terrible as its marketing suggested? 

Alli: I’m overall feeling pretty lukewarm about it. I don’t think it’s an unwatchable wreck, but it doesn’t quite rise to the level of cult classic for me. It’s convoluted and lacks focus, but there’s a good movie lurking in there somewhere. One thing that caught me off guard is how long it takes to actually get to the undead part of the story. Early on, it concerns itself more with the teen drama than it does with the horror, which is really where it gets interesting. Then, once the cheerleaders die, it feels like all the teen girl bonding has already taken place, except for with Leena the resident witch. I would have liked to see them continue to bond and overcome internalized misogyny together, with the gay goths indoctrinating the cheerleaders in their ways and the cheerleaders teaching the gay goths that sometimes being popular and athletic is both hard work and has its perks, and that as girls they experience the same kinds of harassment and violence that male entitlement brings.

The good parts of this stlightly outweigh the rambling, though. There are some very funny lines peppered throughout. At the beginning, when Leena names her cat Madeline the only thing I could think was “Wow! That’s super gay.” And lo and behold, the movie did deliver the gay. (Also, it made me glad that I can pick up on the secretly-attracted-to-girls teen vibe after living through that awkward time. My experiences were not wasted!) I also appreciated the shallow aesthetic of this movie. It looks very Disney Channel Original at times while also delivering some real dark shit. The floating stones and the cemetery sign immediately come to mind. Who designed that sign? Do they work with Hot Topic as well as making small town graveyard signage? The way the bubblegum twenty teens look clashes with the gory violence really works for me.

For those interested in a very similar story but told in a less messy way, I highly recommend Lily Anderson’s 2018 book Undead Girl Gang. There’s popular girls resurrected, misfits bonding with them, and a murder mystery! I imagine this movie was influential on that book, but I do think it improves on a lot of the ideas in some very fun ways.

Boomer: I also come down on the “so okay, it’s average” non-side of the metaphorical fence on this one. When asked about my thoughts when recording our recent Monkey Shines podcast episode, I noted that I would give it one thumb up and one thumb down. Although I liked the concept and the way that it played around with it, there’s a definite muddledness to the narrative that, when combined with the Disney Channel Original Movie VFX, made the whole thing feel cheaper than the sum of its parts. Not that it looks cheap per se; normally, with a movie like this one where virtually the entire cast is unknown, you end up with something that looks like the kind of bargain bin, incorrectly lit, blurry student film that you can find streaming on Tubi (alongside 2001: A Space OdysseyTribulationThe Human Centipede 3, and The Color Purple, because Tubi is a lawless place). And because this was on Tubi, I don’t think that was an unfair assumption going in, especially when the film opens with the (thankfully unfulfilled) promise that we’re about to watch a found footage flick, complete with exactly the kind of overexposed footage that it’s common to find in movies from unseasoned filmmakers. The ability to chalk up poor editing, bad angles, out of focus footage, and inaudible dialogue to an error on the part of a character rather than the production crew has been a boon to neophyte moviemakers out there in the world, and although All Cheerleaders Die opens with a few of these hallmarks, it transitions to being a “real” film pretty quickly. 

But that’s also where some of the other issues come into play. For one thing, this cast of all white, mostly brunette girls caused some issues with telling the characters apart, especially early on. We watch Felisha Cooper’s Alexis die early on at the end of the “found footage” section, and we see that Mäddy (Caitlin Stasey) is clearly a different person. But then we meet Martha (Reanin Johannink) after that section, and it wasn’t until the football players showed up at the cheerleaders’ pool party did I realize that she and Mäddy were different people. There’s something a little strange and careless about the casting of actors who are all a little too similar. I’ve never been confused about which Mean Girl is which, or gotten Nancy and Bonnie confused in The Craft even though Fairuza Balk and Neve Campbell are both pale-skinned and raven-haired. It might be possible to get so high while watching Jawbreaker that when Rebecca Gayheart’s character reminisces about Liz Purr you have a moment where you ask yourself “Who’s that?”, but you’re never going to think that it’s Rose McGowan. That carelessness also seems to bleed over into an overabundance of names ending in a -y/-ie sound: Tracy, Lexy, Kaylee,  Mäddy, Cody, Moochie, and for some reason both a Terry and a Larry, who have no relation to one another. What’s up with that? When you’re watching Heathers, you know that they’re all named Heather (or Betty/Veronica Finn/Sawyer) on purpose, but here it once again just seems needlessly confusing, which is something that you want to avoid when making a movie with a pretty small audience in the first place. 

This certainly has a strong cinematic quality, but the sense you get overall is muddled by the whip-quick changes. First it seems like a found footage movie, but it’s not! It seems like Lexy will be an important character, and she is, but only as a motivating factor for other people’s actions! Why is Cody Saintgnue even in this movie? What is the purpose? There’s a very Jawbreakers-ness to the fact that the only non-evil straight male love interest in the movie is virtually irrelevant (I just watched that cinematic masterpiece again last month for perhaps the tenth time, and every single time I see it, the fact that Julie has a love interest at all gobsmacks me every time), but also, what is he doing here? In Heathers, for instance, the nerds have a Rosencrantzian purpose: to squirt milk out of their noses when a Heather looks at them, to be bullied by the jocks at Heather Chandler’s funeral and thus inspire Veronica and J.D. to target them, to provide chorus in the school. Here, they feel like they’re part of the movie because high school movies have stoners — full stop. So instead of a very tight, clean movie about high femme lesbian cheerleaders eating misogynists, we have a film that meanders around and has several really impressive sequences that turns into a DCOM version of Avengers: Infinity War at the end because Mäddy and her goth girlfriend have to stop the villain from collecting all of the infinity stones. The pool party scene, the beach scene, the car crash, the girls at school — all of it is very, very cool. I was immediately won over by the way that we cut straight from the expository found footage (that doesn’t really tell us much at all) to the very fun, frenetic cheerleading auditions. It managed to combine the campy peanut butter of all of those lacrosse scenes in the first season of Teen Wolf with the campy chocolate of the training montage in 1992’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer set to “I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore” by The Divinyls into a perfect little Reese’s cup. But somewhere between there and the end, after thinking to myself for the first (and presumably last) time I really wish Brittany Snow was in this and also Wow, it’s really fucked up that the only black guy in this movie is our primary villain and he’s out here sexually assaulting a bunch of white girls both literally and symbolically, it ended up being a not-quite-camp-classic for me. 

Britnee: I’ve seen the cover of All Cheerleaders Die many times while perusing through the all the deliciously trashy flicks on Tubi, and nothing about it nor the short description sold me. I don’t really like zombie movies, so a low-budget zombie movie about a group of cheerleaders didn’t seem like something I would be into. I was surprised by how unique the supernatural elements were, though, and it at least wasn’t the annoying, basic zombie crap I expected.

There’s something about gay cheerleaders killing asshole men that really warms my heart. How is it that this is the only film I’ve come across with that plot? It’s wonderful! It does have a pretty slow start and doesn’t really speed up until midway, during the confrontation between the cheerleaders and football players in the woods. That’s when I really became invested, and to be honest, everything that happened prior didn’t really register with me. What really got me amped was the magical Wiccan stones. I didn’t understand how they worked or if they’re a real part of the Wiccan religion, but it thought it was fascinating. The way that the green stones attracted blood and made the blood lines look like slithering snakes was rad.

Would I watch this again? Sure, it was pretty fun, but I’m not quite sure if I see it as being a cult classic. Maybe I’ll change my mind a few years down the road after a couple more watches.

Lagniappe

Britnee: If I would have watched this as a 14-year-old mall goth, I would have been super into it. I don’t mean that as an insult at all! I just think that my interests and style at that time would have really drawn me to hunting down a DVD copy of this movie at all costs. It would be in my vampirefreaks.com bio at the very least. There was a nostalgic feeling that to it that made me cringe a little, and I think I somehow was tapping into embarrassing 14-year-old-Britnee memories. 

Alli: I definitely agree with Boomer about everyone looking extremely similar. I wasn’t confused the whole time, but with the super similar white girl names, it did get rough. I also noticed that the black guy was this super evil, violent, rapey villain, and it definitely rubbed me the wrong way. I do believe that he has a couple of non-white guys in his crew, but it was a very, uhhh, problematic casting choice.

Boomer: I will say that, for all that I’ve said about how I found myself wishing I was watching a movie with more well-known actors, part of this was based on what I perceived for most of the runtime as a particularly terrible performance by Tom Williamson, who portrayed the villainous Terry. He spent the first 90% of the film emoting absolutely nothing: there was no change in his features whether he was sizing up Maddy, looking down at the crash site in which she and the others were presumably killed, or while watching Vik walk up to a teacher in order to tell her about what happened the night before. Once he got his hands on the infinity stones, however, he turned into a big campy weirdo, so I guess we can chalk that up to a character choice for the sociopathic Terry. Brooke Butler’s performance as Tracy was inconsistent, but she was nonetheless very fun to watch, and lead Caitlin Stasey was so magnetic that when I recently caught an episode of the current (terrible) Fantasy Island on TV that she happened to be in, I watched the whole (terrible) thing; and for what it’s worth, cheers for ABC for having a queer lady romance where two women demonstrate what they want to do to each other erotically with a rose. We’ve come a long way, baby. Special kudos, though, goes to Amanda Grace Cooper, who played Hanna. I really enjoyed her performance as both Hanna and Martha-in-Hanna’s-body, and she was the standout for me. I will also say that, for me, the movie would have been 10% better if it had left out Maddy’s video diary entry about her revenge plot. Given how quickly she pivots to genuine fondness for the cheerleaders and the unnecessary forced third act conflict that results from the others discovering the video, I could have done without it. 

Brandon: The Swampflix Crew may not have been entirely convinced of All Cheerleaders Die‘s greatness, but you can at least tell Lucky McKee believed in its cult potential.  Not only does it abruptly end with a shameless tease for a never-made sequel, but it also started as a revision of McKee’s shot-on-video debut, years before he had “made it” as a haunted-household name.  The 2001 SOV version of All Cheerleaders Die is a rough-draft prototype that’s not quite as polished (duh) nor as gay (booo) as its big-budget “remake,” but it’s just as surprisingly successful given its limitations.  It’s no-budget backyard filmmaking at its most charming & upsetting, and it’s obvious how McKee convinced himself of its greater potential as a post-Heathers teen girl bodycount comedy.  I still don’t fully understand why he was wrong, but I’m at least glad y’all found things to enjoy about his second attempt.

Next month: Boomer presents Stepmonster (1993)

-The Swampflix Crew

Lagniappe Podcast: Prey (2022)

For this lagniappe episode of the podcast, Boomer, Brandon, and Alli celebrate Alli’s birthday with the historically-set Predator prequel Prey (2022).

00:00 Welcome

02:00 Inside the Mind of a Cat (2022)
03:24 Niagra (1953)
06:06 Hail, Caesar! (2016)
12:30 Estate sales
18:20 Creepshow (1982)
24:05 Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022)
28:05 Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022)

32:11 Prey (2022)

You can stay up to date with our podcast through SoundCloudSpotifyiTunesStitcherTuneIn, or by following the links on this page.

-The Lagniappe Podcast Crew

Lagniappe Podcast: Monkey Shines (1988)

For this lagniappe episode of the podcast, Boomer, Brandon, and Alli discuss George Romero’s Monkey Shines, a psychological horror about a super-intelligent, super-murderous service monkey.

00:00 Welcome

10:30 Jawbreaker (1999)
19:45 The Coen Brothers
23:55 Nope (2022)
33:45 Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
38:15 Fire of Love (2022)

41:30 Monkey Shines (1988)

You can stay up to date with our podcast through SoundCloudSpotifyiTunesStitcherTuneIn, or by following the links on this page.

-The Lagniappe Podcast Crew

Lagniappe Podcast: Hatching (2022)

For this lagniappe episode of the podcast, Boomer, Brandon, and Alli discuss the coming-of-age fairy tale creature feature Hatching (2022).

00:00 Welcome

04:30 Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
11:11 Night of the Comet (1984)
17:11 Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)
22:39 Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (2022)
26:34 Looop Lapeta (2022)
30:00 Incantation (2022)
34:04 Love and Leashes (2022)

37:00 Hatching (2022)

You can stay up to date with our podcast through SoundCloudSpotifyiTunesStitcherTuneIn, or by following the links on this page.

-The Lagniappe Podcast Crew

Movie of the Month: White of the Eye (1987)

Every month one of us makes the rest of the crew watch a movie they’ve never seen before and we discuss it afterwards. This month Britnee made HannaBoomer, and Brandon watch White of the Eye (1987).

Britnee: If you’ve ever wondered if a Southwestern giallo exists, I am here to tell you that it does, and it’s 1987’s White of the Eye. Its director, Donald Cammell, was a gifted painter, and his artistic eye makes every scene in White of the Eye a visual feast, the way you’d expect to see in gialli. Neon blood splattered across a white table, uncomfortable eyeball closeups, modern desert homes shot through a voyueristic lens; it’s all so mesmerizing. Also, his wife China Cammell co-wrote the screenplay (based on the novel Mrs. White by Margaret Tracy) and appears in the small role of Ruby Roy. I thought that wife/husband collaboration was sweet at first, until I realized that China was 14 when she met the 40-year-old Donald, so their relationship wasn’t really a healthy one. It turns out that Donald was a gross creep like so many other male directors (and like the villain of his own movie).  

White of the Eye stars David Keith as Paul White and Cathy Moriarty as Joan White. They’re a young married couple who live in Arizona with their daughter, a 5-year-old who looks like a 30-something kindergarten teacher. David is the town’s go-to sound system installer. He has a bizarre gift where he hums to pinpoint the exact, perfect speaker placement in every room. At least that’s what I think he’s doing. There’s a lot going on in this movie that I can’t fully make sense of. As we peek in on the family’s daily routine, there’s something sinister going on in the background: a serial killer is brutally murdering wealthy women in the area, and there’s a strong possibility the killer is Paul. Cathy has to determine if her husband is really who she thinks he is or if he’s a psychotic monster. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but just know that it descends into pure chaos by the end and it’s fascinating.

This film has one of the wildest opening scenes. A well-to-do woman returns to her home after a shopping trip and is slaughtered by a killer lurking in her kitchen. During their struggle, there’s slow-motion headbashing, blood splattering, glass shattering and, most memorably, a tiny goldfish flopping around a raw rib rack on the kitchen counter. When I first saw this movie, I thought about that scene for weeks. To me, it’s the most impressive imagery in the entire film. Brandon, what are your thoughts on the camerawork in White of the Eye? Did any particular scenes stick with you after the movie ended?

Brandon: That opening, bloodspattered tour of a Southwestern suburban kitchen is, without question, the most visually striking scene in the movie, and it’s the one that’s stuck most in my mind as well.  However, I’m not convinced it’s the camerawork that makes it such a stunner.  If we’re going to contextualize White of the Eye as an American giallo, we have to acknowledge that it looks like a giallo shot by the TV crew behind Walker, Texas Ranger.  Whether it’s a result of the sun-blazed setting or the Golan-Globus production funds, there’s a daytime TV cheapness to the look of White of the Eye that cannot be overcome through Cammell’s . . . unusual choice of imagery.  Where he overcomes that cheapness isn’t in the camerawork so much as it’s in the editing, which is what truly gives the movie its unwieldy, dreamlike tone.  There are isolated, static images in that kitchen sequence that look absolutely bizarre, but mostly because they’re presented as rapid inserts your brain doesn’t have enough time to fully interpret: flowers falling from the countertop, legs kicking in purple tights, that goldfish flopping on the raw meat, etc.  I was likewise struck by the long, aimless establishing shots of the desert outside these suburban homes, which linger just long enough to breach into Lynchian territory of moody unease.  Again, there’s nothing especially beautiful about those exterior shots’ composition or execution; they’re just edited into a flabbergasting sequence that I could never fully wrap my mind around (not least of all because they’re frequently repeated at full length).  The entire movie borders on looking & feeling mundane, and yet it’s electrifying in its off-kilter presentation.

If White of the Eye is a giallo, it’s a knockoff giallo that gets lost in the American desert for a while, then emerges as a sun-dazed erotic thriller.  It’s a high-style, low-logic murder mystery in the way most great gialli are, but it’s one that actually has something to say after the final reveal of its faceless killer, which most gialli don’t.  That’s why I think it’s important that we do spoil the third-act twists of the plot in this conversation, since it’s largely what makes the film special.  In the same year that the literal war of the sexes reached its misogynist fever pitch in Adrian Lyne’s Fatal Attraction, White of the Eye offered a much more realistic source of unhinged mayhem at the end of its erotic thriller rainbow: an entitled, woman-hating white guy.  It turns out David is not only psychotic for the way he treats tuning audio systems into a spiritual ritual & guiding way of life; he’s also a violent misogynist with some very strange, far-out theories about why all women are evil and deserve to be murdered.  Once White of the Eye fully devolves into a sunlit slasher in its final act, David starts ranting at length about the interplanetary war between Men (from Mars, duh) & Women (from Venus, obv) in a way that doesn’t sound too far off from the kind of unhinged babble you’d expect to read on modern subreddits for MRAs & “gender-critical” TERFs.  Hanna, what did you make of David’s sudden swerve into hateful, faux-philosophical gender politics?  Did it make him a scarier villain or just a more confounding one?  And how does that choice of villain communicate with other war-of-the-sexes thrillers of this era?

Hanna: I was really torn on Paul’s turn initially, but I appreciate it the more I think about it. Despite all of the glaring signs to the contrary, I was somehow expecting some other candidate to pop up and pronounce themself the killer (maybe because Paul seemed too obvious, and unfortunately I’m a sucker for the kind of guy with an obsessive relationship with sound equipment). Initially I was disappointed because it wasn’t surprising, but ultimately I don’t think the film suffers for it. Of course the hot audiophile with a primal temperament sustains a lethal, cosmo-misogynist belief system, but it still took Joan almost the entire film to get to that conclusion, partly because he’s so dang charming and partly because she’s loved him for a decade.

As far as its relationship with other “Battle of the Sexes” genre films, I appreciated the different relationships presented between and within women. Fatal Attraction set up a war against a very particular type of woman (ambitious and career-driven with an angular, gender neutral nickname), while propping Beth up as the sweet, domestic caretaker in comparison; she wins her husband’s affections in the end and Alex is killed. White of the Eye shows major and minor competition between the various women of Globe, Arizona (e.g., Ann Mason’s affair with Joan’s husband, the petty gossip Joan and her friend share about Lisa on the Globe strip), but Paul is the equalizing destructive force. Not only that, but she is the winner of Paul’s heart, and it’s a horror rather than a triumph. I think that was one of the most interesting insights from this movie – I get the feeling that the kind of guys with Paul’s obsessively hateful and lustful ideology think that women should feel lucky to be the object of love and idolatry – that it should make women feel special and superior to other women – but in reality, it’s alienating and horrifying.

I do think that the turn was a little too jarring for me, though; he really goes from mysterious seducer to all-out zealot in the span of an evening. Maybe I was also seduced by the sound equipment, but I don’t feel like I got the sense of any of his crazed personality. Maybe that was part of the point, though, since we’re hearing this story from Joan’s point of view, who can’t help but see him as her partner and father to her child (and was also blinded by his bestial charms). I loved the explosion of chaos at the back half, but it definitely caught me by surprise. Boomer, do you think ending was deserved (narratively and politically)? Was the film cohesively simmering to this point throughout the runtime, or did it come out of nowhere?

Boomer: I have to say, this movie was a stunner. Maybe it’s just that all those Argento movies warped my brain, but I genuinely felt like this was one of the best movies I’ve seen in years … until the ending. I wouldn’t say that it was cohesive up to that point, per se; it’s certainly a film that captures verisimilitude in the sense that none of this feels like characters in a narrative so much as it feels like we stepped into a desert town full of eccentric people, all of whom have relationships and communication styles that are already in play and which we, as newcomers here, have to figure out with very little in the way of exposition. It feels like we’re missing some important information here, but it’s not in a “this screenplay is underdeveloped” way (like many gialli do); it’s a hard concept to try and delineate in prose, but it’s as if we the audience are merely eavesdropping on the events of the film. In the same way that you can sit in a diner booth and hear the people at the next table—be they classmates who hate the same professor, lovers coming to the end of their time together, or a parent and adult child—and hear a fascinating narrative play out, but one which is inherently incomplete. That conversation isn’t being performed for you and therefore there are details that are left out and names that are dropped throughout and you just have to try and guess at the larger story from your small window into it, and White of the Eye feels like a film version of that. That having been said, I don’t disagree that the ending feels like a swerve. The film’s tone makes it clear that there’s an explosive confrontation that’s inevitable, but I didn’t expect that explosion to be so literal, or for things to change so suddenly. 

There’s something strange happening here with regards to race. It’s not something that European gialli can’t do necessarily, but it is something that I don’t think we’ve ever seen them do: we have a white killer appropriating indigenous American myth. The Wikipedia page for the movie states that post-Jokerfication Paul “paints his face in a form reminiscent of both Kabuki and the blood pattern of diving headfirst into a deer carcass,” but it clearly has something to do with some half-remembered legend from the previous occupants of the lands before white men came. Detective Mendoza (Art Evans was also a detective in Fright Night, which always makes me want to pretend that they’re the same character) says to his partner, “What we have here, Phil, is an ancient Indian compass. This goes back before the Vikings.” As someone who grew up around and among hunters, there’s a bizarre familiarity to Paul; my family was steadfastly and fanatically Christian, so there was never any “soul of the kill” stuff happening with them, but there were plenty of people who hung around the deer camps who did happily participate in the easy self-justification that came from “honoring” their animal prey through a muddy mixture of various lores from a dozen different tribes with just a twist of New Age mysticism. Paul is like a weed dealer you met in college who believed a bunch of crazy conspiracy nonsense and had also convinced himself he has some kind of a special, even supernatural ability to really feel the music and where it “wants” to go, maaaaaan. Given how many of those folks have fallen for #stopthesteal rhetoric or fallen under the sway of algorithm-driven ragebaiting, it shouldn’t really be that much of a surprise that Paul looks like the QAnon Shaman by the end. Then again, maybe that’s verisimilitude, too. Inevitable, but at such a strange acceleration. 

I’m going to have to say that I disagree with Brandon here, at least a little bit, and say that there’s a lot more going on with the camerawork than he’s giving credit. If you go back and watch that first kitchen-set murder scene, there are actually very few static images; there’s constant motion and change, not just in the editing, but in the composition as well. The shot that establishes the presence of a fish in the kitchen does so in a close-up that then zooms out and then takes in several other pieces of visual information: an orbiting shot of copper-bottomed pots, a pan up a refrigerator, etc. In those rare moments in which the camera stops moving, the frame is still filled with motion: glass falls into frame and shatters, a chunky tidal wave of something washes over a table and scatters the ephemera there in powerful kinetic motion, a pupil that fills the whole screen dilates. That sense of movement combined with the quick cuts is what gives this movie the overall music video aesthetic that really made it work for me. That Rick Fenn/Nick Mason collaboration on the soundtrack is an artifact that dates the movie just as much as all the customized stereo talk, but White of the Eye has the slick camera motion and quick-tempo editing that would dominate music videos of the next decade, combined with Cathy Moriarty’s performance, which is positively dripping with 70s New Hollywood energy (more on that in Lagniappe), and it renders the whole thing timeless. 

Lagniappe

Brandon:  If you want to see Donald Cammell fall even further down the erotic thriller rabbit hole, his next (and final) feature is a much more-straightforward entry in the genre.  1995’s Wild Side plays like Tommy Wiseau remaking the Wachowskis’ Bound, with a sublimely unhinged Christopher Walken in the Wiseau role, squaring off against Anne Heche & Joan Chen (Josie from Twin Peaks) as the undercover lesbians who upend his criminal empire.  Cammell started his filmmaking career collaborating with prestigious arthouse weirdo Nicolas Roeg, and he ended it making trashy thrillers for the likes of Golan-Globus.  He never lost his weird streak on that journey, though; the tonal & editing choices in White of the Eye & Wild Side are just as bizarre as anything you’ll see in the more respected Cammell titles Performance & Demon Seed.

Boomer: I love giallo, but I would also argue that this film fits into my other favorite genre: women on the verge. The desert setting called to mind 3 Women (another Britnee MotM selection), and there were moments in this where Cathy Moriarty is channeling Faye Dunaway in two of my favorites of her performances: Lou from Puzzle of a Downfall Child with her slowly unraveling peace of mind, and the title character of The Eyes of Laura Mars, in which she is confronted by the fact that (spoiler alert) the serial killer running loose in her social and professional circle is actually the man she’s taken as her lover. 

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This performance is powerful, and I loved every second that she was on screen. There’s an exhaustion that she exudes, but it’s the kind of contented tiredness of someone who’s found themselves in unexpected but nonetheless amenable circumstances, like she’s an angel who’s barely tethered to the earth. “You think I care what people think?” she asks Paul at one point, in the interrogation room. “I’m from the fucking city, I don’tgive a shit about small-town talk!” She’s like Sissy Hankshaw in Tom Robbins’s Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, just this side of ethereal, who just can’t quit that dick. You know, queen shit. 

Britnee: While I’m not super familiar with desert life (I’ve only visited New Mexico for a short time), it’s obvious that the weather during the shoot was extremely hot. What’s fascinating is that there are still multiple characters wearing luxurious fur coats in that scorching desert. Joan, who has exquisite fashion taste, sports a short fox fur coat while chatting it up with Mike at the gas station. She also wears a short peacock feather coat in the flashback scenes when she’s dating Mike and meets Paul. If I’m not mistaken, she puts it on again towards the end of the film in present day. Another fur is worn by Ann, another woman who’s extremely horny for Paul. She wraps herself in this massive floor length fur coat while sipping on a cocktail. It was such a great look that Brandon made it his Facebook cover photo! 

Hanna: Every one of Cathy Moriarty’s looks is an absolute stunner, especially that peacock feathered jacket in the first flashback. I also couldn’t help being tickled by Paul’s hotdog explosive vest, one of the many outrageous fashion pieces on display.

Next month: Brandon presents All Cheerleaders Die (2013)

-The Swampflix Crew

Lagniappe Podcast: Summertime (1955)

For this lagniappe episode of the podcast, Boomer, Brandon, and Alli discuss David Lean’s 1955 Venetian melodrama Summertime, starring a lovelorn Katharine Hepburn.

You can stay up to date with our podcast through SoundCloudSpotifyiTunesStitcherTuneIn, or by following the links on this page.

00:00 Welcome

03:17 First Blood (1982)
07:04 Dirty Dancing (1987)
08:56 Speed (1994)
10:00 Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
12:05 Angus T. Ambrose, Jr.
17:35 The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
19:40 Bad Ronald (1974)
26:00 The Sandlot (1993)
30:22 Downton Abbey: A New Era (2022)
32:40 Mothering Sunday (2022)
35:55 Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)
37:45 A Room with a View (1985)

42:51 Summertime (1955)

– The Lagniappe Podcast Crew

Lagniappe Podcast: How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989)

For this lagniappe episode of the podcast, Brandon and Boomer discuss the farcical, anti-capitalist body horror How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989), starring Richard E. Grant.

00:00 Welcome

01:00 Miller’s Crossing (1990) & Barton Fink (1991)
12:00 Murder, She Wrote: South by Southwest (1997)
15:45 The Conjuring 2 & 3 (2016, 2021)
26:00 Morbius (2022)
32:40 After Yang (2022)
36:50 Gagarine (2022)
43:15 Neptune Frost (2022)

48:18 How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989)

You can stay up to date with our podcast by subscribing on SoundCloudSpotifyiTunesStitcher, or TuneIn.

– The Podcast Crew