Amazon Prime has been offering a bunch of new add-ons for the past three months or so. The most popular ones are SHOWTIME and STARZ, but for my money, the best one is SHUDDER. A collection of more obscure horror movies ranging from modern indie art house flicks to ridiculously over-the-top low budget 80s trash, SHUDDER seemingly has something for everybody. With your Amazon Prime membership, you can enjoy a FREE 14 day trail. Here’s some quick reviews of the first 6 movies I was able to catch during my 14-day trial:


Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006 / dir. Scott Glosserman / USA) 

Uninspired mockumentary about a camera crew following an ambitious serial killer as he “immortalizes himself.” Derivative of Man Bites Dog, a funnier and overall better film, Behind the Mask thinks it’s a lot more clever than it actually is but features a few good laughs and solid performances all around. (2 1/2 meta jokes out of 5)



Dead and Buried (1981 / dir. Gary A. Sherman / USA)

Boring and confusing are two fantastic adjectives to describe this lackluster sort-of-zombie film. Dead fishermen come back to life to terrorize and take pictures of the living. There’s some genuinely spooky moments, but they are few and far between in a movie that seems to have no idea what the hell it is doing. (2 unfocused flood lights out of 5) 



Demons (1985 / dir. Lamberto Bava / Italy) 

Absolutely fucking ridiculous. When a weird steampunk silver-masked dude in the subway hands out a free pass to a movie premiere, a young woman and her friend decide to go. At the movie premiere, hipsters and aging artists gather only to be possessed by demons one by one and rip each other apart. An Italian movie centered around Americans with awful English dubbing. (3 1/2 Steampunk Phantom of the Opera Dudes out of 5) 



The Innkeepers (2011 / dir. Ti West / USA)

Expertly crafted slow-burn from the director of House of the Devil, that provides a small but incredibly effective amount of scares. It also provides a lot of great humor thanks to two very well developed leads beautifully played by Sara Paxton and Pat Healy. They are the two clerks working at the Yankee Peddler Inn on it’s closing weekend. Apparently the place is haunted and in between virtually ignoring guests, they try their hand at ghost hunting.  There are moments when the film will definitely test your patience, but the pay-off is more than worth it. (4 1/2 ignored towel requests out of 5) 



Maniac Cop (1988 / dir. William Lustig / USA)

Bruce Campbell and Tom Atkins battle Maniac Cop, the NYPD’s dirty little secret. Apparently Maniac Cop was once a good cop, he shot first and asked questions later, but he was still a good cop. After getting sent to prison, he was brutally killed and then released onto the public by the police or medical team that brings him back from the dead or something. Anyway, they send him out to the street to “take out the trash” but once he starts killing white people it’s suddenly a problem and Maniac Cop must be stopped. This is a poorly made film that’s just competent enough so it’s not even funny. Since it’s about a cop who murders unarmed civilians and the failure of the NYPD to do anything about it, it takes on a sort of eerie relevance in 2016. There’s even an anti-NYPD protest in the streets towards the end. Oh, and Bruce Campbell’s stunt man clearly has a mullet. (1 1/2 human rights violations out of 5) 



Maniac Cop 2 (1990 / dir. William Lustig / USA) 

Bruce Campbell is back to take on Maniac Cop again. Everyone just assumes Maniac Cop is dead, but he’s not, he’s just more decomposed than he was the first time around. In this one, he’s more like Jason Voorhees meets Sloth from The Goonies. He goes around helping rapists/murders and murdering their victims as well as declaring war on all NYPD officers. It’s offensive, misogynistic, poorly made but in a lot of ways the film the first Maniac Cop should have been. At least this installment is so off-the-rails it’s amusing and features a lot more sequences involving people running around on fire. Just a year before his Oscar nomination for Barton Fink, Michael Lerner appeared in this as a police commissioner rarely seen without his pipe. Technically not on Shudder, but worth the $2.99 7-day rental if you already hate yourself.  (3 Christopher Dorners out of 5) 

Later this weekend, I’ll post mini reviews of the other 6 movies I watched during this 14-day trial period:












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