BY Richard Austen

Streaming Suggestions is a month-by-month series of recommendations for film lovers and those interested in expanding their horizons. 

While I assume most readers will have at least one of the popular streaming services, I understand that some don’t, so I have also included the excellent free service SBS-on-Demand.

This month is a list of films perfect to watch in anticipation for Halloween, some films here are horror-comedies, some are genre pieces, and some are just plain weird, but they’re all interesting and worth a watch!


From Dusk Till Dawn

Written by Quentin Tarantino, directed by Robert Rodriguez, starring George Clooney. What a movie. The Gecko brothers are fugitives on the lam after holding up a bank when they encounter a Mexican biker bar called the ‘Titty Twister’, and it just happens to be full of vampires. If you’re after a fun, gory, action-packed film, look no further, because this is one of the best. It has a whole lot of great actors hamming it up appropriately, from Danny Trejo, Tom Savini, Quentin Tarantino himself, Salma Hayek and CHEECH MARIN. Any film with Cheech Marin is well-worth a watch. What can I say, he’s a cool dude. Watch the movie.

“I know what's going on. We got a bunch of fucking vampires out there, trying to get in here and suck our fucking blood. And that's it. Plain and simple. I don't want to hear anything about "I don't believe in vampires," because I don't fucking believe in vampires, but I believe in my own two eyes, and what I saw, is fucking vampires. Now, do we all agree that what we are dealing with is vampires?”


Rob Reiner is an extraordinarily underrated filmmaker, not just for his comedies (This is Spinal Tap, The Princess Bride and When Harry Met Sally), but also for his forays into more serious films. Misery is one of his best, a completely straight and perfectly done exercise in genre. James Caan is pretty good in this film, but of course he gets completely outclassed in every conceivable way by Kathy Bates in one of the great horror performances of all time. Caan plays a famous author who is saved from a car crash by an ostensibly lovely woman who happens to be a huge fan of his. Whilst he recovers at her house, her friendly façade begins to crumble when she doesn’t like the new sequel he is writing of her favourite series. Reiner delivers some of the most dread-inducing, suspenseful scenes you’ll ever see, and the story by Stephen King is just brilliant. This is a great, accessible horror feature.

“Paul, my little ceramic penguin in the study always faces due south.”


Lost Highway

David Lynch himself described this film as a “psychogenic fugue”. That’s pretty apt. Lost Highway begins and ends with the same shot, even the same song from David Bowie’s Outside, headlights searching through the blackness of night, trying to find the next few yellow lines of a mysterious road. The plot is complete nonsense, a lot of the reviews seem to dig into this as if it were a failure on Lynch’s part, perhaps it is, but if it were to have a conventionally structured narrative with pay-offs, a beginning, middle and ending, character development, then it would no longer feel like a dream, but a structured Hollywood contrivance. Consider this, a car mechanic gets into a limousine with a crime-lord. They drive around the Hollywood Hills chatting when the crime-lord proceeds to viciously beat the living hell out of a tailgater. The meaning behind this is obvious, David Lynch hates tailgaters. This is the film.

“Don't tailgate! Don't you fucking ever tailgate! Do you know how much space is needed to stop a car traveling at 35 miles per hour? Six car lengths! Six fuckin' car lengths! That's a hundred and six fuckin' feet, mister! If I had to stop suddenly, you woulda hit me! I want you to get a fuckin' driver's manual, and I want you to study that motherfucker! And I want you to obey the the goddamn rules of the road! Fifty-fuckin' thousand people were killed on the highways last year 'cause of fuckin' assholes like you! Tell me you're gonna get a manual!”

Prime Video

The Blair Witch Project

One of the most brazenly original and influential horror films of all time, The Blair Witch Project works because of the mythology behind it. The filmmaking is undeniably brilliant and the sound design is central to the concept of the film, you can hear every twig break and gush of the wind. Three film students venture out into the woods of Maryland to make a documentary about the ‘Blair Witch’ urban legend, and as they delve further into the forest, things start to seem wrong… Admittedly, it’s a slow film, and most people accustomed to modern horror like The Conjuring, will probably be bored by this. It was an event when this film came out because of the fact that it was so real, people believed these students truly were lost and their tapes had been recovered. It left the realm of filmmaking, and it crept into reality. That was what was so scary about it. Now, it’s a piece of history, and still pretty damn good.

[sees dozens of stick-men hanging from trees] “No redneck is this creative.”

The Lighthouse

Robert Eggers’ masterpiece second film, The Lighthouse is an astonishing feat of filmmaking. Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe play off each other so brilliantly as lighthouse-keepers, trapped on a barren land with only their madness to keep them solace. Farts, masturbation and mermaid sex are just some of the wonderful bits of the film, but the key stand-out is the cinematography. Eggers uses vintage cinema lenses and a narrow aspect ratio to give off a claustrophobic atmosphere, the blocking between actors is always close and the composition perfect. Eggers, in my opinion, is a new Kubrick – to miss out on seeing this is to miss out on an essential piece of American cinema.

“Goddamn your farts! You smell like piss, you smell like jism, like rotten dick, like curdled foreskin, like hot onions fucked a farmyard shit house. And I'm sick of your smell. I'm sick of it!”

Day of the Dead

George Romero capped his masterpiece trilogy with Day of the Dead, an existentialist zombie film with some extraordinary make-up work done by genius Tom Savini. Trapped underground, a group of scientists and military personnel begin to turn on each other as the zombies creep inevitably toward them; the problem becomes apparent, it’s not the zombies who are evil, but the people themselves. Day of the Dead is a film that reflects the decade it was made: it’s stark, nihilistic and excessive. The effects are a real improvement over the first two of Romero’s Dead films, with some amazing imagery and special effects (my personal favourite is of a torso getting ripped apart), and the story is just appropriately bad-spirited enough; but if there’s just one reason to see this film, it’s to see Joseph Pilato’s overacting.

“I'm running this monkey farm now Frankenstein and I wanna know... what the fuck you're doing with my time?”

Carnival of Souls

The only film made by Herk Harvey, ‘Carnival of Souls’ is a landmark in strange cinema. It plays like a beautiful haunting, lost film, that you’d catch a glimpse of at midnight on an unknown channel. It's in the grime, the lack of finesse, and the low budget that the film becomes great. It has this 'Ed-Wood-but-good’ quality. The film follows a woman, who has just survived a car crash and moves to a new town to become the church organist. There is a central metaphor at play that’s pretty obvious, but it’s not a plot-driven film; it delves into a psychological state of being, a malaise of fear and dread. It’s a perfect mood-piece, perhaps uninteresting to some who prefer story-driven films, but a definite watch for anyone wanting to experience something strange.

“It's funny... the world is so different in the daylight. In the dark, your fantasies get so out of hand. But in the daylight everything falls back into place again.”


The Shining

Along with William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is one of the greatest horror films of all time. If you haven’t seen it, what are you even doing? People tend to remember Jack Nicholson’s performance, and of course it is brilliant in this film, but Shelley Duvall might have out-acted him on this one; there’s something about her, especially her eyes, that makes her performance enduring. So many scenes and images in this film are iconic, it works so perfectly as a slow unravelling of sanity in the paradoxical confines of a massive hotel. Essays, books and documentaries have been made about the themes of this film. Is it about the crimes of white men against the native Americans? Is it about the Holocaust? Or is it something else? Kubrick above all, with his cold, calculated manner of filmmaking, created a film as mysterious and inexplicable as the Overlook itself. That’s a feat.

“White Man's Burden, Lloyd, my man! White Man's Burden.”

The Ring

Gore Verbinski directed this American remake of the J-Horror classic, Ringu, and gave it a stronger narrative thread, pumping up the stylised horror. As an American adaptation The Ring does the material justice, fleshing out a more compelling narrative, delivering on scares, having more of a stylistic edge, but it never quite achieves that haunting power of Ringu. It follows a cursed tape that, when watched, will give the viewer only 7 days to live. What fascinates me with the J-Horror fad was how it so effectively tapped into the technological anxiety of its time and paired it with Japanese folk legends; the imagery is so effective in these films. Where Nakata knew that his images were terrifying, Verbinski keeps pushing and pushing his style and imagery, sometimes failing because of his overreliance on dated CGI. Nonetheless, The Ring does stand as an excellently made, satisfying horror film that is an essential watch for anyone interested in the J-Horror phenomenon of the 90s.

“What is it with reporters? You take one person's tragedy and force the world to experience it... spread it like sickness.”

Event Horizon

No doubt an imperfect movie, but it’s got a hell of a lot of great images and ideas. Paul W. S. Anderson has, since making this film, gone on to direct a string of mediocre Resident Evil films, each one being worse than the previous, and it’s a shame, because in the very recesses of Event Horizon is something original and great. The story follows a rescue crew as they investigate a ship that has reappeared from a black hole, but, what happened to the crew on the other side? The concept of an interdimensional journey into hell is one that is an extraordinary idea, and whilst Anderson seems intent on ruining the premise with asinine characters yelling stuff like “aw hell no!”, the atmosphere and foreboding of the film is unrivalled. This is the ultimate cult film, imperfect but brilliant in spite of it.

“I created the Event Horizon to reach the stars, but she's gone much, much farther than that. She tore a hole in our universe, a gateway to another dimension. A dimension of pure chaos. Pure... evil. When she crossed over, she was just a ship. But when she came back...”

SBS on Demand

The Host - available until 30 April 2021

Now that Bong Joon-Ho has finally earned the international popularity he has deserved for his entire career, it’s a good time to give one of his earlier films a watch. The Host follows a family who have to reconcile after a monster from the Han River emerges and takes their daughter. The machinations of bureaucracy and the failure of the government are obvious themes running throughout the story that are seen again and again in his other films. The Hos’ however, does have a lot of problems, mostly to do with facile commentary of American politics played out through several half-baked sub-plots. Ho seems to work best when his commentary is at a much more general level (see: Parasite in comparison to this film’s thinly veiled Agent Yellow/Agent Orange ideas). This is one of Bong’s lesser works, but it’s still incredibly entertaining, well-made and has solid ideas. One of the best monster movies of the 21st century, next to Frank Darabont’s ‘The Mist’.

“Have any of you heard it? The heartbreak of a parent who's lost a child... When a parent's heart breaks, the sound can travel for miles”

Rosemary’s Baby - available until 30 November 2020

Roman Polanski’s horror masterpiece, Rosemary’s Baby has gone on to influence so many horror films, it’s immediately recognisable even if you haven’t seen it. Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes play a young couple who recently move into an apartment with their new baby; however, their new neighbours are a little more than friendly. Rosemary’s Baby is a landmark in horror cinema, it was a departure from the monster-movies of the 40s and 50s that seemed to dominate Hollywood, and it came as part of a renaissance of critically acclaimed horror as part of the mainstream. Along with Night of the Living Dead, The Innocents, and The Exorcist, it cemented horror as a legitimate art form, and elevated it from the depths of B-movie schlock. Absolutely a brilliant film and it holds up really well, so it’s an accessible watch for all.

“God is dead! Satan lives!”

Dead Ringers - available until 31 January 2021

David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers is the essential film about screwed up twins. Jeremy Irons plays identical twin gynaecologists, one an anxious introvert, the other a womanising extrovert. They take advantage of the fact nobody can differentiate them, but soon, the question becomes not which twin is on screen at any one time, but who the twins really were in the first place. This is a fantastic psychological thriller, with all the gory Cronenberg stuff that you desire, but the thing that makes you stay is the intelligence of the story and the performance delivered by Irons. The pacing is admittedly slow, but there is a gradual ramp up to insanity with gruesome medical tools being used on victims that leaves you queasy after watching.

“I've often thought that there should be beauty contests for the *insides* of bodies.”

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