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  • Writer's pictureGabe Powers

Grinding the Stream: Sci-Fi, Westerns, Documentaries & Other Leftovers

Are you self isolating? Are you thinking about broadening your cinematic horizons? Perhaps you’d like to learn about a specific genre? I’m here to help. I'm finishing up the regular Grinding the Stream columns with everything I found that wouldn't fit anywhere else (stay tuned for one last super secret entry, though).

Once again, we're looking at the big three, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, as well as smaller boutique paid services Shudder, Criterion Channel, and Fandor, and a collection of free streaming services available via Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, et cetera. I compared a bunch and, for the sake of simplicity, I found the best in terms of content and video quality to be Tubi, Midnight Pulp (a "+" will be included wherever subscription fees apply), VUDU’s free selections, The Roku Channel, Shout Factory TV (though most of their titles can also be watched via Amazon Prime), Popcorn Flix, Dark Matter TV (again, a "+" will be included wherever subscription fees apply).

Be warned – all of the free apps have ad breaks (I know, it sucks) and the video quality is inconsistent from app to app. Sometimes it's genuine HD, other times, it's sub-VHS. Apologies if I’ve suggested something with particularly grim A/V quality and be aware that the availability is based on the research I did on March 31st, 2020 (because I'm so close to the end of the month, I'll double check availability on these tomorrow and edit as needed). Given the nature of streaming media, I imagine very few of these titles will be available in perpetuity. I've included links to my own reviews of some of these films.

Alien Rip-Offs

Movies inspired by Ridley Scott's film are simply a personal favorite specific subgenre and most of the "best" ones are, surprisingly, available streaming

  • Contamination (Luigi Cozzi, 1980) – Amazon Prime, Shudder, and Midnight Pulp

  • Scared to Death (William Malone, 1980) – Amazon Prime

  • Inseminoid (Norman J. Warren, 1981) – Midnight Pulp

  • Galaxy of Terror (Bruce D. Clark, 1981) – Shout Factory TV

  • Forbidden World (Allan Holzman, 1982) – Amazon Prime and Shout Factory TV

  • Creature (William Malone, 1985) – Fandor

  • Lily CAT (aka: LILY-C.A.T.; Hisayuki Toriumi, 1987) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp (super weird Japanese animated film)

  • Creepozoids (David DeCoteau, 1987) – Tubi

  • Shocking Dark (aka: Terminator 2; Bruno Mattei, 1989) – Midnight Pulp + (this is actually a dual rip-off of Aliens *and* The Terminator)

  • Dark Side of the Moon (D.J. Webster, 1990) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp +

  • Syngenor (George Elanjian Jr., 1990) – Midnight Pulp

  • Dead Space (Fred Gallo, 1991) – Amazon Prime and Shout Factory TV (remake of Forbidden World)

Body Snatchers and Stolen Identities

  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel, 1956) – Amazon Prime

  • Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell (Hajime Sato, 1968) – Criterion Channel

  • The Stepford Wives (Bryan Forbes, 1975) – Tubi

  • Shivers (aka: They Came From Within, 1975) – HULU and Tubi

  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Philip Kaufman, 1978) – Amazon Prime

  • Dead and Buried (Gary Sherman, 1981) – Amazon Prime, Shudder, VUDU Free, and Tubi

  • The Stuff (Larry Cohen, 1985) – Amazon Prime, Shudder, and Tubi

  • Seedpeople (Peter Manoogian, 1992) – Tubi

  • Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018) – HULU and Amazon Prime

Post-Apocalyptic Trash & Treasures

  • A Boy and his Dog (L.Q. Jones, 1975) – Amazon Prime, Criterion Channel, VUDU Free, and Popcorn Flix

  • Black Moon (Louis Malle, 1975) – Criterion Channel

  • Death Race 2000 (Paul Bartel, 1975) – Criterion Channel, Fandor, and Popcorn Flix

  • The Aftermath (Steve Barkett, 1982) – Midnight Pulp

  • Warlords of the 21st Century (aka: Battletruck; Harley Cokeliss, 1982) – Amazon Prime

  • 1990: The Bronx Warriors (Italian: 1990: I guerrieri del Bronx; Enzo G. Castellari, 1982 – Shudder and VUDU Free

  • Escape from the Bronx (Italian: Fuga dal Bronx; Enzo G. Castellari, 1983) – VUDU Free

  • Endgame (Italian: Endgame - Bronx lotta finale; Joe D’Amato, 1983) – Amazon Prime

  • The Exterminators of the Year 3000 (Italian: Gli sterminatori dell'anno 3000; Giuliano Carnimeo, 1983) – Amazon Prime

  • The New Barbarians (Italian: I nuovi barbari; aka: Warriors of the Wasteland; Enzo G. Castellari, 1983) – Amazon Prime

  • Prisoners of the Lost Universe (Terry Marcel, 1983) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp

  • Rats: Night of Terror (Italian: Rats - Notte di terrore; Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso, 1984) – Amazon Prime

  • Warriors of the Year 2072 (Italian: I guerrieri dell'anno 2072; Lucio Fulci, 1984) – Amazon Prime

  • Def-Con 4 (Paul Donovan and Digby Cook, 1985) – Tubi

  • The Quiet Earth (Geoff Murphy, 1985) – Shudder

  • Wheels of Fire (Cirio H. Santiago, 1985) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • Hands of Steel (Italian: Vendetta dal futuro; Sergio Martino, 1986) – Amazon Prime

  • Steel Dawn (Lance Hool, 1987) – VUDU Free and Popcorn Flix

  • Mutant Hunt (Tim Kincaid, 1987) – Tubi

  • The Sisterhood (Cirio H. Santiago, 1988) – Amazon Prime

  • Bronx Executioner (Vanio Amici, 1989) – Amazon Prime

  • Delicatessen (Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, 1991) – Amazon Prime and Criterion Channel

  • Tank Girl (Rachel Talalay, 1995) – Amazon Prime

Other B-Sci-Fi and Fantasy

  • StarCrash (Luigi Cozzi, 1978) – Amazon Prime and Shout Factory TV

  • Message from Space (Kinji Fukasaku, 1978) – Amazon Prime

  • Battle Beyond the Stars (Jimmy T. Murakami, 1980) – Shout Factory TV

  • Hawk the Slayer (Terry Marcel, 1980) – Tubi and Shout Factory TV

  • Space Raiders (Howard R. Cohen, 1983) – Amazon Prime and Shout Factory TV

  • Deathstalker (James Sbardellati, 1983) – Shout Factory TV

  • Sorceress (Jack Hill, 1986) – Shout Factory TV (a personal favorite)

  • Deathstalker II (Jim Wynorski, 1987) – Shout Factory TV

  • Nightfall (Paul Mayersberg, 1988) – Amazon Prime, Shout Factory TV, and Tubi

  • Doctor Mordrid (Charles and Albert Band, 1992) – Midnight Pulp and Tubi (originally designed as a Dr. Strange movie, before the Band's lost the rights)

Revisionist Westerns

I’m going to assume folks have already seen the Quinten Tarantino, P.T. Anders, and Coen Bros westerns.

  • The Furies (Anthony Mann, 1950) – HULU

  • Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954) – HULU and Amazon Prime

  • A Man Alone (Ray Milland, 1955) – HULU

  • The Deadly Companions (Sam Peckinpah, 1961) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • One-Eyed Jacks (Marlon Brando, 1961) – Amazon Prime

  • The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1966) – Amazon Prime

  • The Shooting (Monte Hellman, 1966) – HULU and Tubi

  • Ride the Whirlwind (Monte Hellman, 1966) – Criterion Channel and Tubi

  • Little Big Man (Arthur Penn,1970) – Amazon Prime

  • Hannie Caulder (Burt Kennedy, 1971) – HULU and Amazon Prime

  • China 9, Liberty 37 (Monte Hellman, 1978) – Amazon Prime (almost a spaghetti western!)

  • Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch, 1995) – Criterion Channel

  • Lone Star (John Sayles, 1996) – VUDU Free

  • The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005) – Amazon Prime, VUDU Free, Tubi, and Popcorn Flix

  • Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010) – HULU, Amazon Prime, Criterion Channel, Tubi, Dark Matter TV, and Popcorn Flix

  • The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2018) – HULU

Documentaries About Cult Movies

  • Burden of Dreams (Les Blank, 1982) – Criterion Collection (the making of Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo)

  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: A Family Portrait (Brad Shellady, 1988) – Amazon Prime

  • My Best Fiend (Werner Herzog, 1999) – Fandor, Shout Factory TV, and Tubi (Herzog explores his relationship with Klaus Kinski)

  • Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild Untold Story of Ozploitation (Mark Hartley, 2008) – Tubi

  • Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno (Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea, 2009) – Amazon Prime (the story behind Clouzot’s unfinished film)

  • I Knew It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale (Richard Shepard, 2009) – Fandor

  • Best Worst Movie (Michael Stephenson, 2009) – Amazon Prime and Tubi (retrospective doc about the legacy of Troll II)

  • Nightmares in Red, White and Blue (Andrew Monument, 2009) – Amazon Prime (general look at ‘60s/’70s American horror movies)

  • Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (Andrew Kasch and Daniel Farrands, 2010) – Shudder

  • Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore (Frank Henenlotter and Jimmy Maslon, 2010) – Criterion Collection

  • Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan (Gilles Penso, 2011) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • Birth of the Living Dead (Rob Kuhns, 2013) – Amazon Prime (the making of Night of the Living Dead)

  • Milius (Joey Figueroa and Zak Knutson, 2013) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • The Search for Weng Weng (Andrew Leavold, 2013) – Midnight Pulp

  • Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (Daniel Farrands, 2013) – Shudder

  • That Guy Dick Miller (Elijah Drenner, 2014) – Amazon Prime and Popcorn Flix

  • Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau (David Gregory, 2014) – Amazon Prime

  • Why Horror? (Nicolas Kleiman and Rob Lindsay, 2014) – Shudder (horror fandom and psychology)

  • Monster Madness (three parts: The Golden Age of the Horror Film, The Gothic Revival of Horror, and Mutants, Space Invaders & Drive-Ins; Jeff Herberger, 2015) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp (these are mediocre, but enjoyable)

  • Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II (Kevin McDonagh, 2015) – Shudder (in two parts)

  • Smoke and Mirrors: The Story of Tom Savini (Jason Baker, 2015) – Shudder

  • De Palma (Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow, 2015) – Netflix

  • Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four (Marty Langford, 2015) – Amazon Prime and VUDU Free

  • To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story (Derek Dennis Herbert, 2017) – Amazon Prime

  • 78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene (Alexandre O. Philippe, 2017) – HULU

  • Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary (John Campopiano and Justin White, 2017) – Tubi and Popcorn Flix

  • Becoming Bond (Josh Greenbaum, 2017) – HULU

  • King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen (Steve Mitchell, 2017) – Shudder

  • They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead (Morgan Neville, 2018) – Netflix (the making of Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind)

  • Shirkers (Sandi Tan, 2018) – Netflix (story of an unfinished, teen-made Singaporean indie movie)

  • Master of Dark Shadows (David Gregory, 2019) – Amazon Prime (documentary about Dark Shadows and Dan Curtis)

  • All the Colors of Giallo (documentary about gialli; Federico Caddeo, 2019) – Midnight Pulp + and Tubi

  • The Dawn of the Kaiju Eiga (Jonathan Bellés, 2019) – Midnight Pulp (mostly about Godzilla movies)

  • Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (Xavier Burgin, 2019) – Shudder

Not Sure How to Categorize These Ones!

  • Eating Raoul (Paul Bartel, 1982) – Criterion Channel (Bartel's brilliant class and cannibalism comedy)

  • Crimes of Passion (Ken Russell, 1984) – Amazon Prime (Russell's brilliant psychosexual dramatic comedy)

  • Peanut Butter Solution (Michael Rubbo, 1985) – Amazon Prime (utterly bizarre Canadian-made kiddie adventure/comedy/coming-of-age pseudo-horror movie)

  • The Stunt Man (Richard Rush, 1980) – Shout Factory TV (a unique genre mash-up)



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