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‘The Amityville Murders’ – A Ghoulish and Exploitative Look at the DeFeo Murders [The Amityville IP]

The Bloody Disgusting-powered SCREAMBOX is home to a variety of unique horror content, from originals and exclusives to cult classics and documentaries. With such a rapidly-growing library, there are many hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

Here are five recommendations you can stream on SCREAMBOX right now.

Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut

The sophomore directorial effort from master of horror Clive Barker, Nightbreed is by no means an obscurity among genre fans, but some may not be familiar with the director’s cut, which runs 20 minutes longer than the original version and has been reworked to better reflect Barker’s original vision. While it was virtually impossible to live up to the subversive heights of Hellraiser, Nightbreed is an admirable, if uneven, effort in its own right. Based on his 1988 novella Cabal, Barker incorporates elements of fantasy, monster movies, psychological thrillers, and slashers, but at its core Nightbreed is a love story.

After being set up as the scapegoat for a serial killer, Aaron Boone (Craig Sheffer, Fire in the Sky) is gunned down in a hail of gunfire. He finds himself in Midian, a subterranean realm inhabited by the last remaining survivors of ancient shapeshifters. Boone’s loving girlfriend, Lori (Anne Bobby, BioShock), seeks answers, while his duplicitous psychiatrist, Dr. Phillip Decker (filmmaker David Cronenberg), works with the authorities to destroy Midian and its misunderstood inhabitants.

Barker reunites with several key members of the Hellraiser team, including actors Doug “Pinhead” Bradley, Nicholas “Chatterer” Vince, and Simon “Butterball” Bamford as various Nightbreed folk, as well as special effects artist Bob Keen and cinematographer Robin Vidgeon. Armed with an $11 million budget — 11 times that of Hellraiser — Barker explores a grander scope with nightmarish practical creatures, fire, explosions, and a Danny Elfman score. With themes of the queer experience, persecution, gaslighting, mental health, police brutality, and militia recklessness, Nightbreed is just as relevant today as it was in 1990.

Sorority House Massacre

Long before shared cinematic universes were the norm, The Slumber Party Massacre (also on SCREAMBOX) spawned an unlikely one. Prior to the release of SPM sequels, Roger Corman’s Concorde Pictures produced 1986’s Sorority House Massacre. Slumber Party Massacre plays on the TV in the film, but footage from SPM is later used as a backstory flashback in Sorority House Massacre II. Corman even enlisted Carol Frank, who served as the director’s assistant on SPM, to write and direct Sorority House Massacre.

When Beth (Angela O’Neill, who recently served as a property master on a little movie called Barbie) spends a long weekend at her friend’s sorority house, she’s haunted by visions of a knife-wielding madman. That man, Bobby Henkel (John C. Russell), escapes from a nearby mental institution and finds himself drawn to Beth, dispatching anyone who gets in his way.

Parallels to Halloween are obvious, but Sorority House Massacre also draws inspiration from A Nightmare on Elm Street. The movie takes itself a little too seriously at times, with Frank staging it more like a psychological thriller, but that can add to the fun. The pacing is a bit slow even at a mere 74 minutes, yet it’s more atmospheric than the majority of cheap slasher cash-ins.

Alien Valley

If found footage and ghosts go together like peanut butter and jelly, then found footage and aliens are like peanut butter and fluff. Following the recent bombshell of a congressional hearing on alien life, there’s no better time to watch 2012’s Alien Valley. It follows a group of six paranormal investigators to Colorado’s San Luis Valley to examine mysterious cattle mutilations. Although experts initially dismiss them as reality TV frauds, the chilling footage they capture suggests a deadly encounter with an extraterrestrial force.

With a group of friends running around in the wilderness with cameras as a largely unseen entity starts picking them off one by one, Alien Valley doesn’t reinvent the found footage wheel. But the format — which cuts back and forth between “leaked” footage and documentary-style talking head segments about the incident — effectively builds to a creepy ending. A quick watch at 78 minutes, the first half is bogged down by interpersonal drama, but it becomes considerably more engaging once the action picks up.

The Vampire Doll

If The Last Voyage of the Demeter has you thirsty for more blood, SCREAMBOX has a wide selection of vampire movies to sink your fangs into. 1970’s The Vampire Doll (originally released in the US as The Night of the Vampire) plays like Japan’s answer to Hammer Films from Toho, the studio that birthed Godzilla. An international twist on the “old, dark house” trope, it opens on a dark and stormy night and maintains a classical Gothic atmosphere (albeit in modern times) throughout.

After six months abroad, Kazuhiko Sagawa (Atsuo Nakamura) arrives at the secluded country home of his girlfriend, Yuko (Yukiko Kobayashi, Destroy All Monsters), to meet her family for the first time, only to have them inform him of her recent untimely death. 15 minutes in, the narrative shifts to Kazuhiko’s sister, Keiko (Kayo Matsuo, Shogun Assassin), who travels to Yuko’s house alongside her fiance (Akira Nakao, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II) to investigate. They uncover horrible truths about her brother’s disappearance, Yuko, and her family.

At a mere 71 minutes, The Vampire Doll offers a unique take on vampire mythology through a different cultural lens. It’s the first in the so-called “Bloodthirsty Trilogy” of vampire movies directed by Michio Yamamoto for Toho in the ’70s, followed by Lake of Dracula and Evil of Dracula. Doll is arguably the strongest, but all three are worth watching — and they’re all on SCREAMBOX.


Roger Corman goes all-out with his rip-offs. For his 1987 Gremlins imitator Munchies, the producer hired Gremlins editor Tina Hirsch (who also cut the likes of Dante’s Peak and Steven Spielberg’s Twilight Zone: The Movie segment) to make her directorial debut. The film even winks at its inspiration with the inclusion of an AMC Gremlin car sporting an OHGIZMO license plate.

When aspiring comedian Paul Watterman (Charlie Stratton, Summer Camp Nightmare) accompanies his alien conspiracy theorist father, Simon (Harvey Korman, Blazing Saddles), on an archeological expedition in Peru, they discover a small creature that they smuggle back to the US. Paul’s girlfriend, Cindy (Nadine Van der Velde, who had just faced similar monsters in Critters), dubs the species Munchies based on his affinity for junk food, while Paul names him Arnold after the pig on Green Acres.

Simon’s shady twin brother, Cecil (Korman, in a dual role), and his stereotypical stoner stepson, Dude (Jon Stafford, Full Metal Jacket), kidnap Arnold, and they soon discover that Munchies multiply into furious, if still diminutive, monsters when dismembered. Designed by Robert Short (Beetlejuice, Close Encounters of the Third Kind), the creatures’ mobility is predictably limited but still lend themselves to some fun set pieces, including a rousing bout of golf course high jinks.

With a supporting cast that includes Hardy Rawls (The Adventures of Pete & Pete), Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager), Wendy Schaal (The ‘Burbs), Paul Bartel (Chopping Mall), and Ellen Albertini Dow (The Wedding Singer), Munchies is a campy delight. It’s lighthearted enough to be considered gateway horror, so long as you don’t mind exposing your children to monsters with horny tendencies.

Visit the SCREAMBOX Hidden Gems archives for more recommendations.

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