In just a few short weeks, one of the Internet’s crown jewels is shutting down: FilmStruck, a streaming service home to films in the Criterion Collection. It is a place that gives us access to difficult-to-find or never-heard-of films. This site also includes a wide variety of horror films that span across the decades, from David Lynch’s Fire Walk with Me to the original Godzilla films. Before FilmStruck disappears on November 29th, here are 10 horror films to add to your watchlist.
10. The Devils (1971)
If you like possession films, you need to watch The Devils. Starring Oliver Reed (The Brood) and Vanessa Redgrave (Mission: Impossible), this film is about the apparent possession of 17th-century nuns. Reed’s Urbain Grandier, a Catholic priest, has some rather unorthodox views when it comes to sex. His leadership is put into question by sexually-repressed Sister Jeanne, played by Redgrave. A whole lot of sexual frustration, paired with accusations of witchcraft, builds up and leads them all down a very bad path. When it was originally released in 1971, it was met with public outrage and was banned in several countries. It was thought to be too violent and too sexual, especially in regards to religion.
9. Godzilla (1926~)
Admittedly, this is more than one film suggestion because FilmStruck has quite a few of the Showa era Godzilla films, including the original. These films are absolutely ridiculous pieces of fun, full of strange monsters and battles of epic proportions. Besides the original Godzilla, I recommend checking out Mothra vs. Godzilla. A giant moth, two mini ladies, weird representations of native people. It’s a prime example of 1964 monster filmmaking, and it is spectacular.
8. Diabolique (1956)
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and 1956 French thriller Diabolique illustrates that two-fold. Two women, Christina (Véra Clouzot) and Nicole (Simone Signoret), plot revenge on Michel Delassalle (Paul Meurisse), who is Christina’s husband and Nicole’s lover. Revenge, in this case, means murder. But it doesn’t stop there. After his death, Michel’s body mysteriously disappears and more strange events begin to unfold. Seen as a precursor to Psycho and Peeping Tom, Diabolique is key viewing, especially as an early piece of gender exploration in horror cinema
7. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)
David Lynch has a very particular brand of surrealist horror. It sticks with you, unsettles you. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is a prime example of his unsettling filmmaking. The film follows Laura Palmer before her death, which is the subject of the series, Twin Peaks. It is a horrifying and tragic look at the events leading up to her murder. It may offer slight clarity around the events of Twin Peaks, but not much. Plus David Bowie makes an appearance.
6. The Lure (2015)
The Lure is one of FilmStruck’s more contemporary films. Released in 2015 and directed by Agnieszka Smoczynsk, it is a phenomenal take on the coming-of-age-mermaid film, which we are surprisingly seeing more of these days. It is also a musical. Horror-musical, count me in. The film follows two carnivorous mermaid sisters who come to shore and use their siren songs to prey on young men. Where do they use these songs? A gritty nightclub in 1980s Poland, of course. According to FilmStruck, Smoczynska creates a “viscerally sensual, darkly feminist twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” in which the girls’ bond is tested and their survival threatened after one sister falls for a human.”
5. Carnival of Souls (1962)
Carnival of Souls, according to FilmStruck, “made by industrial filmmakers on a small budget, the eerily effective B-movie classic Carnival of Souls was intended to have ‘the look of a Bergman and the feel of a Cocteau.’” And it succeeds. Directed by Herk Harvey, this low-budget indie film from 1962 became a cult classic. The film follows Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) after she survives a car accident. In the wake of the trauma, she moves to Salt Lake City. However, along the way, she is drawn to an abandoned carnival, one that may hold secrets to her past. What lurks in this carnival? I guess you’ll have to watch the film to find out.
4. Hausu (1977)
This psychedelic trip of a film is a testament to the power of Japanese filmmaking. Nobuhiko Obayashi’s classic film, Hausu, is almost indescribable, full of animation, collage, and color that creates one wild, unforgettable ride. It is gorgeous, hilarious, and ridiculous. Plus it includes a demonic cat. Hausu follows a group of schoolgirls who are on their way to visit one of their aunts. Her house, while gorgeous, is also haunted by evil spirits and the aforementioned demonic cat. The girls must fight to survive whatever is thrown their way and survive the house. No description can do this film justice, so give it a watch and let it wash over you.
3. Vampyr (1932)
FilmStruck describes the 1932 Danish horror film, Vampyr, as “one of cinema’s great nightmares.” The film follows a young student who arrives in a village only to learn about the curse of the Vampyr. Director Carl Theodor Dreyer creates an atmosphere of terror using a variety of camera tricks and exquisite sound design. Vampyr is an experimental horror classic that is necessary viewing for anyone who loves the genre.
2. Page of Madness (1926)
This film may feel inaccessible for some. It is silent, with no intertitles, meaning there isn’t much explanation for what exactly is happening on-screen. But there’s no denying the beauty of this film. Page of Madness was released in 1926, directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa, but was lost until the 1970s. The film follows a janitor in an insane asylum who has taken the job to stay close to his wife and rescue her. While it may seem hard to follow, it is a beautiful piece of cinema that perhaps only a site like FilmStruck can easily give us.
1. Kuroneko (1968)
This may be the most beautiful horror movie I’ve ever seen. Kuroneko, or Black Cat, is a 1968 Japanese horror film set in feudal Japan. A woman and her daughter-in-law are raped and murdered by a band of samurai, who then burn their house down to hide the evidence. However, these women come back with a vengeance, possessed by spirits of a black cat. They will have their revenge and drink the blood of every samurai in the world. It is a fascinating rape-revenge story, a genre typically associated with American exploitation films. The film comes from Kaneto Shindo, who also directed the classic Onibaba. If there’s one film you watch before the end of FilmStruck, it should be Kuroneko.
You can check out all of these, and FilmStruck’s full horror collection, here. Be sure to binge as much as you can before the platform closes for good at the end of this month.