3 FROM HELL
Rob Zombie follows up his 2005 cult favorite The Devil's Rejects with another depraved descent into the world of the murderers known as the Firefly Family. This sequel undoes the brilliant, Bonnie & Clyde-esque ending of its predecessor, revealing those verbose, cine-literate sadists survived and, once they break out of prison, they seek refuge in a rough-and-tumble Mexican village.
Worth a stream? If you're a Zombie superfan, you've probably already seen 3 from Hell. Casual fans are better off rewatching Rejects, a far superior version of this needless retread. For rent on Amazon and iTunes.
Here's a scuzzy little number. Joe Begos' film concerns a hedonistic painter who snorts a cocktail of cocaine and DMT and soon develops a taste for the sanguine stuff. The whole movie looks like it was shot under a black light, and its sludgy metal soundtrack and hallucinatory visuals — the movie even begins with an epilepsy warning — make the blood spurting and flesh ripping all the nastier.
Worth a stream? Recommended for those who like their horror nasty, brutish and short; it's in the spirit of the feverish hedonism of the drive-in era. For rent on Amazon and iTunes.
It sounds familiar. A group of college kids looking for a thrill on Halloween hit up an "extreme" haunted house, only to discover the attraction's violent set pieces aren't make-believe. What separates this film from most direct-to-VOD shlock is a clever, twisty script by directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (A Quiet Place), who conjure memories of Tobe Hooper's overlooked 1981 slasher The Funhouse.
Worth a stream? Despite some third-act hiccups, this is ideal October viewing: a bit goofy, a bit grisly and overflowing with autumnal atmosphere. Streaming on Shudder; for rent on Amazon.
IN THE TALL GRASS
Inspired by a novella from father-son team Stephen King and Joe Hill, this tense fable takes place inside a roadside cornfield that swallows up anyone who steps between the stalks. Director Vincenzo Natali specializes in claustrophobic chamber pieces (his Cube is a classic of the subgenre), and it's reminiscent of several other King shorts made into films — "Children of the Corn," "The Mist" and the wonderfully gruesome "The Raft." But like so many features based on slim volumes, it runs out of steam before it's over.
Worth a stream? Its style is probably enough to warrant a look, but be prepared for a disappointing conclusion. Streaming on Netflix.
No, not the 1989 Beetlejuice ripoff with Fred Savage and Howie Mandel. This is a scrappy, profane Australian horror-comedy about a 30-something loser (Alexander England) who takes a shine to his nephew's sunny preschool teacher (Lupita Nyong'o) and agrees to chaperone a field trip to a rural farm. Too bad it's right next door to a government testing facility where zombies break loose.
Worth a stream? The movie was a hit at film festivals, and while it's hardly an original take on the splatter comedy, it might pass the time over pizza and beer. Streaming on Hulu.
ONE CUT OF THE DEAD
An ingenious meta-comedy from Japan, about a film crew working on a live TV special about a zombie invasion who are attacked by zombies themselves, all while the crazed director demands the camera keep rolling. Opening with a single, uninterrupted 37-minute take, the film then... well, I actually don't want to spoil what happens next, because the less you know about it, the better. It's a George Romero nightmare by way of a screwball farce.
Worth a stream? Absolutely. Funny, smart, twisty, drenched in buckets of fake blood, and ultimately a celebration of low-budget filmmaking. Streaming on Shudder. ♦