Between Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, Shudder, and countless other streaming services, the selection of choices for horror fans can be overwhelming. Amazon Prime Video began as a perk for Prime members to help members justify their yearly fee, but has since grown to be a worthy competitor to streaming champ Netflix. There are currently over 3,000 titles available in horror with Prime Video, but unlike many of its rivals, the streaming service isn’t always exactly easy to navigate. It doesn’t help that there’s a ton of not so great filler titles, and no decent way to filter and sort beyond surface level categories to really dig in to see what’s available.
Here are five more horror gems currently lurking on Amazon Prime Video that are worth adding to your watch lists:
Ignore the terrible cover, this Civil War-era set horror movie surpasses its modest straight-to-video budget to deliver a pretty unique mind trip in the niche sub-genre of wild western horror. The plot set up is simple, in which a group of Confederate soldiers on the lam from a bank robbery find themselves prey of mysterious supernatural forces when they seek refuge in an abandoned plantation. Things get extremely surreal for the outlaws, as they face karma in the creepiest possible way. First time director Alex Turner does a lot with what little he has in terms of budget, offering well-timed scares and unnerving atmosphere. It’s not perfect, but it’s far more entertaining and well put together than the cover box would suggest. The cast of outlaws is great; Henry Thomas, Patrick Fugit, Nicki Aycox, and Michael Shannon before he became a recognizable star. Dead Birds also marks the first feature writing credit for Simon Barrett (You’re Next, The Guest, Blair Witch)
Shot in black and white in 1964 and held up for release due to the original producer’s bankruptcy until 1967, this horror comedy was overlooked even for its time. That it dealt with poor marketing and numerous title changes, from The Liver Eaters to The Maddest Story Ever Told, didn’t help. It’s a shame because it’s such a fun movie with pitch-black humor that it’s deserving of more attention. Lon Chaney Jr. stars as Bruno, caregiver to the three orphaned Merrye children, all sufferers of the “Merrye Syndrome,” a genetic condition that causes them to mentally, emotionally, and socially regresses as they age. When a couple of distant relatives show up to claim the Merrye estate as theirs, they find much more than they bargained for with the volatile, deteriorating children. Feral and deadly, but with a humorous innocence, Virginia “Spider baby” and Elizabeth play with their distant relatives like intended prey. The oldest and therefore most deteriorated is Ralph, played by a very young Sid Haig. It’s a delightfully odd movie that more people should see.
The more that’s revealed about the upcoming reboot Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, the more anticipation grows. Penned by Bone Tomahawk writer S. Craig Zahler, there’s an expectation that this reboot is going to be brutal. That the cast boasts names like Barbara Crampton and Udo Kier, and that Italian master composer Fabio Frizzi is handling the score is music to my ears. But who are Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund, the pair tapped to direct? That’s where Wither comes in; a Swedish horror film that marked the feature debut for the duo. It’s the Swedish answer to The Evil Dead, low budget and all, but instead of a Kandarian evil summoned from a tape recorder in the basement, it’s the Vittra, a creature from Swedish folklore. Truthfully, it’s a by the numbers plot rehash that doesn’t offer much in the way of surprises, but it is gloriously gory. If Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is even half as bloody as Wither, we’re in for a treat.
Peter Jackson’s feature debut lives up to its title’s promise. The insane splatstick horror comedy was written, directed, produced, filmed, edited by Jackson, who also played three different characters on screen (well, one was the voice of the minister on the phone) and handled makeup and special effects. He shot the film on 16mm on weekends, over the course of four years. If Bad Taste, gory Tom Savini influenced effects and all, isn’t a labor of love, I don’t know what is. The plot sees a small New Zealand village invaded by aliens seeking humans to harvest for their intergalactic fast food franchise; a narrative that was ripe for the gross-out gags that stuffed the film. Crude humor and gore is the name of the game in this low budget romp, so don’t go in expecting much but gagging in between fits of laughter, but fans of horror comedies should seek this oddball out.
Also known as House of Crazies, this Amicus Production horror anthology has one of the best wraparound stories of all; a young erstwhile psychiatrist is tasked with interviewing patients at a mental hospital to determine which one was the former head of the asylum turned patient after a mental breakdown, as a test to deem if he is worthy for the position. Boasting a cast with the likes of Charlotte Rampling and Peter Cushing, Asylum proved to be one of the more popular Amicus anthologies in the UK box office. As with all anthologies, not every segment sticks the landing, but Asylum does save the best for last; the gruesome final segment and conclusion is a spine-chilling highlight, and features one of horror’s creepiest dolls.