(Welcome to Now Scream This, a column where horror experts Chris Evangelista and Matt Donato tell you what scary, spooky, and spine-tingling movies are streaming and where you can watch them.)
Matt: According to the calendar, holidays are still a thing? Happy whatever, America! Now let’s all celebrate like I had to for my lockdown birthday…by doing nothing. Stay home. Cook some hot dogs over a flaming pile of dollar bills while blasting that Team America song or whatever you do on the 4th Of July. Just, pretty please, keep the current situation in mind? Pandemics don’t respect nationwide vacation days. Watch some Americana-themed horror movies from your couch and ensure social distancing. Chris and I have some streaming recommendations that should resonate awful loudly right about now.
Chris: It feels extra strange to celebrate America right now, because of, well…everything. But hey, it’s the 4th of July weekend, baby! And that means it’s an excuse to drink booze, eat grilled food, and watch horror movies (not that I need an extra excuse to do aunt of those things). And since America can be such a nightmare, Matt and I decided to highlight some good old American horror stories (and no, I’m not talking about the show that everyone hates but keeps watching anyway).
Now Streaming on Shudder
Matt: Is there anything more “U-S-A” than working yourself to death?! [Punches time card at 7:00 P.M. without overtime pay] Hell Naw! Joe Lynch’s Mayhem is everything wrong with bloodthirsty corporate structures that couldn’t give less of a bother about the underpaid cogs in any scenario. Hierarchies crumble as Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving climb their way to the top, snapping each passed rung like the bones they’ve broken along the way. It’s aggressive, it’s in-your-face, and it’s laced with workaholic frustration. So, yeah, pretty much a typical Tuesday for 99% of citizens who might find catharsis in workplace violence.
Chris: This movie is a blast, and proves that both Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving should be huge stars.
Now Streaming on Shudder
Matt: Capitalism has its ups (supposedly) and certainly has its downs. We’ve seen far too many cases where unrighteous profiteering is nary frowned upon because cashflow is still cashflow. We’re a country ruled by the almighty buck, but that ain’t a good thing. Just look at Street Trash, in which hobos start melting after drinking some Brooklyn liquor store’s spoiled product. Tenafly Viper will turn your body into goop, let alone get you buzzed, but who cares when vendors can prey upon the “lowest class” of humans? Exploit poverty, shrug off the side effects, count your earnings. Could there be anything more American than economic martyrdom and murderous greed? [Gestures around wildly.]
Chris: I’ve never seen this, but based on Matt’s write-up, and the trailer above, I need to watch it immediately.
The Greasy Strangler
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime
Matt: If there’s one thing us red-blooded United Staters have mastered, it’s excess. We know what we want, when we want it, and moderation is for the weak. Do you want grease on your grapefruit, Big Ronnie? Slather it on. You wanna lather yourself in fatty juices and strangle victims by night? Who is anyone to deny your oh-so-unhealthy obsession! Take what’s yours and punish the weak. Nothing is ever enough, whether it’s grease or power or pleasure. Didn’t think I’d be able to tie The Greasy Stranger into the moral decay from sea to shining sea, did ya? Give this disco choker flick a whirl if you’re into something more obscure, even if it’s still not greasy enough for Big Ronnie’s tastes.
Chris: I’ve avoided seeing this just because I can tell it’s designed to be as repulsive and disgusting as possible, and I need to be in the right frame of mind for that shit. So far, I haven’t been.
Now Streaming on Hulu
Matt: Those still waiting for our current president’s promise of a border wall will probably find Gigi Saul Guerrero’s Culture Shock a horror film for all the wrong reasons. I’m going to keep recommending this one every 4th of July because, frankly, too many real examples prove we’re not beyond the fears Guerrero confesses in this Into The Dark feature. The America Dream has been weaponized, and patriotism now brings with it a warped connotation. There is a reason why Culture Shock is still extremely relevant a year later, and probably will be if this column reaches future July iterations (he admits with maximum disappointment). Is “Immigration Horror” a recognized subgenre? If not, here’s a title that’s willing to lead the pack.
Chris: I’ve been disappointed by most of the Into the Dark entries, but this sounds promising.
Now Streaming on Hulu
Matt: Let’s cap everything off with classism, intellectual superiority, and the poison that is affluence. Before contextualizing names, or discussing fictional biographies, Shirley is a movie about a socialite couple who torments their younger visitors like sacrificial muses. Elisabeth Moss casts a wicked spell as Shirley Jackson and Michael Stuhlbarg is a downright mercenary as Stanley Hyman. Shirley rolls possession flick undertones and haunted house aesthetics all into one, except the monsters hide in plain sight. Why care an iota for inferior peasants when you can use them, abuse them, and chase them away when you’re bored? Ah, to be wealthy and self-centered enough to possess your own gravitational pull. Such is the terror that’s very much alive in Shirley.
Chris: One of the year’s best films, featuring yet another killer performance from the always-amazing Elisabeth Moss.
Now Streaming on Starz
Chris: John Carpenter’s take on the Reagan years continues to feel relevant to this day. Drifter Roddy Piper is just trying to get by and make an honest living, but everything changes when he finds a box of sunglasses that enable him to see that the world around him has been invaded by hideous aliens. The aliens are constantly pumping out subliminal messages to us stupid humans, ordering us to consume, and sleep, and remain blind to things that are going on around us. It’s a story of the powerless fighting back against the powerful, even though the odds look grim, and that’s a distinctly American message. And oh yeah, They Live also features an amazing, endless fight scene where Piper and Keith David punch each other in the balls in an alley. That’s pretty American, too.
Matt: Obey Chris and watch The Live; fight the brainwashing!
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