It’s Halloween, kids. Or adults. And pantomime horses. Today is the greatest holiday of the year, and we’re willing to let you get on with your festivities as you do, but we’re just letting you know about some currently streaming below-the-radar sci-fi movies that will bring the terror almost as much as that haunted house down the block that’s actually just a garage filled with carbon monoxide. That’s why trick-or-treating never lasts that long in this neighborhood.
So without further a-boo, here are eight under-seen flicks you can find and watch right now. If you da…oh, you do dare? Okay, then.
Europa Report (Netflix Instant)
People bitch a lot about the found-footage subgenre, and for good reason, but low budgets do not always equal low intelligence. Sebastián Cordero’s Europa Report is a testament to that, sending a crew of six people out to Jupiter’s most promising-for-mankind moon to see if it can sustain life. Prepare yourself for a slow burn of a space exploration film that gets to that Upworthy point where “what happens next may shock you.” Is anything scarier than a Dan Fogler-as-a-genius cameo? Maybe, maybe not.
Shivers (Netflix Instant)
One of David Cronenberg’s earliest and squirreliest films, Shivers is also known by the names They Came from Within and Orgy of the Blood Parasites, among others, and while you’re thinking about how weird that is, your body is being infected by a severely disgusting parasite that makes you want to have sex and kill everything. So it’s just like puberty, only with a much larger gag factor.
The Host (Netflix Instant)
Years before Bong Joon-ho directed the greatest sci-fi train movie with Snowpiercer, he made one of the coolest and most awe-inspiring monster movies ever, 2006’s The Host. Sure, the film is actually pretty funny, and shines a darkly satirical light on both the American military and public heath systems. But it also boasts one of the freakiest creatures in modern CGI cinema, and the suspense is wide-scale and often unrelenting. Scariest thing of all? That he did it for $11 million, while U.S. studios spent ten times that much for films that are a tenth as good.
The Bay (Netflix Instant)
Another film with a socio-political bent, Barry Levinson’s 2012 faux doc thriller The Bay is a little too fractured and heavy-handed for its own good, but it’s the rare trip for a Hollywood director to the dark side of thriller filmmaking. The Bay tells the story of a Maryland bay town that falls victim to a mysterious parasite in the water, and it tells that story through a revolving door of characters’ video camera footage. Not every scene works, but many of them set up extreme situations that are damned chilling both in and out of context.
The First Half of The Langoliers (Netflix Instant)
Any piece of visual sci-fi adapted from a Stephen King novel is bound to have its problems, and the 1995 miniseries The Langoliers is no exception. But those problems don’t come in heavy doses until the second half of the miniseries. The first half sees David Morse, Dead Stockwell, and Patricia Wettig (among others) as the only people left on a plane after an unexplainable event. They eventually discover they’re the only people left on Earth, and for a while there, the information is delivered in such a subdued and creepy way that it makes up for the awful CGI creatures at the end. Plus, watching Bronson Pinchot tear paper has never been more unsettling.
Timecrimes (Amazon Instant)
Honestly, Nacho Vigalondo’s Timecrimes is one of those movies that I think is perfect from its opening right up until the credits roll. The less known about it the better, but it follows a man (Karra Elejalde) who gets stuck inside a time loop that allows for some of the sweetest lo-fi time travel thrills and reveals possible. Every little thing takes on a different meaning each time the story plays out.
The Color Out of Space (Amazon Prime)
It’s not often that you’ll find a decent H.P. Lovecraft adaptation outside of the 1980s, but German director Huan Vu’s 2010 mystery The Color Out of Space is a definite exception. With its stark black-and-white aesthetic making the low-budget visuals that much more appealingly off-putting, the story follows a son who looks for his missing father and stumbles across something else entirely. It’s not “hide in the closet” scary, but it’s one of the most perfect transitions of Lovecraft’s words to cinema.
Frankenstein’s Army (Netflix Instant)
Like a video game come to life, Frankenstein’s Army is a P.O.V. movie that sees Russian soldiers stumbling across a mad Nazi scientist’s secret lab, where he’s been combining corpses and machinery to make a set of ghastly steampunk zombie creatures that antagonize the soldiers in some ridiculously intense sequences that use the camerawork to their advantage. Director Richard Raaphorst’s creature designs and gonzo approach make up for the dimwitted exposition and found-footage justification.