Oops, did I miss a word? Shouldn’t that be “the best of horror 2012?” No. If I did a Top 18 list for 2012 releases available via Netflix streaming, that would be all of them. This really is just the horror of 2012. That’s right, and this is that list. Netflix has a whopping eighteen horror releases from 2012. Of them, I’ve seen
five seven (when I started this post, now it’s many), and given most of those 3 stars out of 5.
Mind you, I tend to pick by Highest Rated not Year Released anyway. The last movie I’d watched as of when I started this article, the 1971 Murders in the Rue Morgue starring Jason Robards with Gordon Hessler as director…was a yawner. david-697 hits the nail on the head in their review at imdb.com. Where any facts may be in error, it’s truthy and that’s good enough. That reviewer still managed to give it 7 stars out of 10, which I tend to think of as 3.5 out of 5 even though I’m sure I’m probably wrong in doing that somehow. That would put it safely in the “liked it quite a bit, needs help” range for me, so that’s far too generous. I gave it 2 out of 5.
Netlix defines 3 stars as “I like it.” For me, it’s more that I didn’t actively dislike it. If I went to a friend’s place and they put it on, I’d watch it. There’s worse ways to pass the time. By the same token, the odds of my re-watching it on my own are pretty much nil. If someone asked for a recommendation, a 3 would not be one of them.
Consider, I’ve rated 122 (and counting) of their streaming horror films. Evil Dead, one of my all time faves, gets a clear 5 stars in my book. All told, I’ve given 5 stars to only 31 of their streaming horror offerings, so they do have things I’ve enjoyed incredibly much. A 5 for me means, “I can watch that one again and again. I would really have to try hard to burn out on it.” At least, that’s my impression of it at the time. So far I haven’t burned out on any of them yet, and I’ve seen them all at least twice, some like Evil Dead, maybe a dozen times. These are some of the movies that should come to mind if someone were to ask for a recommendation. I could understand if someone didn’t think these at least a four, but I question your taste at three.
A four star movie is one I could conceivably get the itch to see again, I could happily watch it with friends without being bored of it. I might recommend something from the fours if I thought it was a good match for someone. I could understand some people giving them fives or threes, but two or less? C’mon. You just don’t like horror, do you? Or you’re more of a junkie than I am and have a preferred sub-genre out of some exotic locale, subtitled in anything but English. I’m comfortable being a connoisseur of violence culture pablum. Right, get your palm off your face. Who should that surprise?
At two and one, and we have clearly different tastes. Those are the ones I recommend to annoying acquaintances and people I actively dislike.
Of the thirteen remaining 2012 releases (as of when I started writing), the “best” of those has an average user review of 2.8, with an expectation that I’d only give it a 2.5 (if only I had the option). Netflix might as well say, “Here, Frank, here’s something you may think is starting to lean into active dislike. Don’t worry, you’ll like it slightly less than the average viewer.”
Coming in at #1 in the remainder of Netflix’s Horrible Parade of Dreck for 2012,
With no further adieu,
[Flourish of trumpets, a little Pomp and Circumstance, even]
Note: that’s probably as exciting as this gets.
#1 7 Below
Directed by Kevin Carraway.
Starring Ving Rames with Luke Goss, Rebecca da Costa, and Val Kilmer
Introducing the very “best” of the Netflix streaming selection for horror released in 2012. Netflix predicts I’ll give it 3.1 stars. The average user gives it 2.8. By the magic of algorithm, it is guessed, with some degree of accuracy, that I do indeed like it ever so slightly more than “leans toward active dislike,” but not by much. I begrudgingly give it 3, thanks mainly to Ving Rames. Should someone ask me to suggest a ghost story, it could be a long while before this one comes up in rotation. IMDB viewers, though far fewer, savaged it with a 3.2 out of 10 (or what I would think of as a 1.6. Rotten Tomatoes viewers were even less generous, with an average of 1.5 stars out of 5.
If you took several ghost stories, shuffled them a little, and called it good, you might arrive at something very like this. Kilmer did another passable rendition of “Barely on His Feet Man,” though nothing to compete with his Doc Holliday. Rames was distinctive mainly for being Ving Rames (it’s that voice and his towering presence), his talent really not pushed here. Direction and production quality are about what one would expect of an also-ran attempt to fill a hole in the horror genre, decent and modern, but pedestrian and it showed at the box office with only $6 million. Slow pacing didn’t help. On the other hand, it didn’t kill me and it kept me captivated enough to be a passably passable 90 minutes.
Considering I predicted the following prior to watching it, I wasn’t too far wrong:
Mind you this does have Ving Rames and Val Kilmer, so hrm. My gut is that it must suck pretty hard for Ving and Val to not carry it at least to a three for the average viewer. I’m perversely looking forward to this. I’ll neither be surprised if it’s a 4 or a 2. My tastes are screwy like that.
Seriously, my praise will only be about this high for anything that appears in this 2012 Netflix Streaming Horror Extravaganza, so just assume any 3’s I dole out are by reason of a nearly equivalent amount of meh on my part.
#2 The Pact
Yes, I’ve sorted these bass-ackward for this non-best of on purpose. It may be a mercy. Your mileage may vary.
Directed by Nicholas McCarthy, with a cast you may recognize from here or there.
Creepy quote: “Mommy, who’s that behind you?”
Decently suspenseful. Gotchas to keep it interesting. There were a haunting and something arguably worse. It’s quite possible you’ll like this one more than I did. I still gave it a 3, just as Netflix predicted. I don’t regret the experience. It just wasn’t memorable. Nice, ambiguous ending, suggestive of what, exactly? IMDB users gave it 5.7 out of 10, giving it marginally more credit than I did. Rotten Tomatoes critics also gave it 5.7, where users gave it 3 out of 5.
Not as impressive as Freddy Krueger coming through the wall, but this will have to do.
#3 Dead Season
Directed by Adam Deyoe. Unrated. It’s a zombie flick. It’s not a great zombie flick, but it’ll do. Low budget. Needed more zombie. Plot and character devices just Walking Dead enough to make you wish for February to get here already. So solidly 3 stars that Netflix predicted that I would give it the same as their average viewer, 3, and I did. 4.5 out of 10 on IMDB, so not far off. Rotten Tomatoes critics haven’t bothered with it. Their users had somewhat more discriminating tastes and only gave it 2.5 of 5.
Shorts: the post-apocalyptic fashion item of choice when comfort matters.
#4 Werewolf: The Beast Among Us
Directed by Louis Morneau.
A town. Werewolf! Hunters a-plenty, some more heroic than others. A coming of age. Things are not what they seem. Fight scenes. And that’s a wrap. IMDB viewers liked this one slightly less than I did, giving it a 4.9 out of 10. For me, this is just an unremarkable 3. Yet again, RT critics steered clear. Surprisingly, their viewers liked it a hair more than I did, rating it 3.1 out of 5.
I’m still waiting for Werewolf: The Beast from Outer Space that Stayed There
#5 The Devil’s Carnival
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman.
By all rights, this one should have soared right into a 5. It was novel, colorful, and extravagant. It had camp sufficient to a diabolical musical about Hell as a carnival. The costuming was superb. The musical numbers were apt and well done. Yet, at the end of it, I just didn’t find the story of sin and redemption, as portrayed, quite compelling enough to give it anything more than 3 stars, exactly as Netflix predicted, while their average reviews comes out to 3.2. IMDB viewers were more gracious, giving it 6.6 (6/100ths away from a perfect score!). Rotten Tomatoes critics haven’t weighed in yet, but their viewers seem to like this film even more than the IMDB crowd, with an average rating of 3.8 out of 5.
Almost like someone smashed Moulin Rouge and Repo: The Genetic Opera together, but not quite.
Directed by Michael A. Nickles. Starring (or maybe I should just say, “featuring”) Christian Slater.
Christian Slater!? Surely, if I gave this a measly 3 I must mean a different Christian Slater, right? I mean, Christian motherfuckin’ Slater, but without top billing! Nope. Since we last looked in on him, he’s well and truly jumped the shark. This bombed so big, TSA should screen it. It only made…$264 at the box office. No, I did not forget a capital M there. I didn’t even forget “,000” after the four. $264. Snacks during dress rehearsal probably cost more than that. As for the movie itself, I don’t think it sucked $264 badly. It didn’t even suck enough for me to dislike it. There was just nothing so remarkable about it that I could give it more than the 3 stars Netflix predicted if I tried, which is only marginally less than the Netflix average of 3.1…suiting to a marginal flick. IMDB viewers registered more distaste by parting with 4.1 out of 10. The tomato throwers at RT tolerated it only a shade more, giving it 2.2 out of 5.
Next time, I’ll just watch Videodrome.
Directed by David Brooks.
Finally, something I actively disliked. I can’t say I hated it, as it was just compelling enough to keep my eyes open, but really now. Take a cast of characters for whom I feel no sympathy, put them in an all-too-plausible scenario with likely solutions, and make them stupid enough to fail miserably and we have ATM. Honestly, I might have been generous with the 2 stars I gave it, but that might have been for sentimental reasons. I remember what it’s like to be held up at gunpoint (true story). That shit is scary. That’s about all I could muster. Netflix thought I would be far more sympathetic, predicting 2.9 for me, while their average viewer doled out a far-too-hefty 3.2 out of 5. IMDB viewers failed me by giving this too much credit, with 4.7 out of 10. Rotten Tomatoes critics agree with me, stingily parting with 4 out of 10, while their viewers managed to give it 2.5 out of 5, fully .5 too many.
There should be overdraft fees for giving out too many stars.
#8 Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies
Directed by Richard Schenkman.
That I pressed the play button automatically generates the first star. That it has Zombies right in the title earns it a second star. I am, after all, uncertain as to the existence of a 1-star zombie movie. I don’t think it’s possible, but please, don’t take that as a challenge. Is nothing sacred? After that, well…the third star was the combined effort of the silliness of the scenario, two laugh-out-loud moments, and the spectacle of it, however subdued. Higher than that? No dice. IMDB viewers clearly have more discerning tastes. They gave it 3.1 stars, but that’s out of 10. Rotten Tomatoes critics gave this one a pass, too. Their viewers clearly agree with IMDB that my taste in movies is pretty horrid, as they only gave it 2.2 out of 5. Netflix underestimates my love of most things zombie. They predicted I’d give it 2.6.
Where do I get me one of those handy flick-scythes?
#9 Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader
Directed by Kevin O’Neill. Starring boobies.
Netflix, ya gotta be shittin’ me, right? I’m nearly halfway through your 2012 streaming releases, and you’re diving toward the bottom already. This is so bad you think I’ll only give it 2.6 and the average is 2.8. IMDB users don’t appear to be wasting their time with it. Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t even yield any results for a search on the title. For all your algorithmic muscle, don’t you consider little details like this when paying good money to license what can only be crap? Maybe I’ll get around to watching this one day, sometime after I’ve watched every crappy older offering that’s at least marginally less crappy.
This has two things going for it. Roger Corman and the likelihood that this is the most you’ll ever see of it.
#10 Celluloid Bloodbath: More Prevues From Hell
Directed by Jim Monaco and James F. Murray, Jr.
For #10 of the 2012 18 we have, not a movie, but a collection of not movies. It’s a collection of prevues with bits of commentary thrown in (or up) for measure, good or ill. Truly something, or something to be avoided, for the horror movie aficionado whose tastes run, um, to the runs. Surprise, I’m giving this one an honorary 5 stars. For one thing, the moments of commentary are worthwhile in themselves. Secondly, the overall feel of the movies featured, the music, the narration, brings back warm memories of early childhood when I pretended to be asleep in the back seat at the drive-in. That was cheaper than a babysitter by far. Thirdly, this promises to be a treasure trove of movie samples for the goth/industrial/metal artist. Who knows, something featured herein may actually worth merit watching in its own right. Surely more than the 50 Foot Abomination mentioned above. So, how ya like me now, Netflix? Your average review is 2.5 and you predicted I’d give it a 2.4. Didn’t see 5 coming, did ya? IMDB‘s average is 5.7 of 10. Rotten Tomatoes at least has an entry for it, but a dearth of ratings.
Grinding its way into houses across the country, one Internet connection at a time.
#11 Girls Gone Dead
Directed by Michael Hoffman, Jr. and Aaron T. Wells. Starring Ron Jeremy and Jerry Lawler. And bikinis.
Yup, we’re starting to scrape bottom here. With a Netflix average of 2.6 and a prediction that I’d give it 2.4, they were 1.4 stars too optimistic. IMDB‘s audience for this kind of horror comedy, 800+ strong, still only managed to eke out a 3.6 out of 10. Rotten Tomatoes traffic for it is so sparse that, yet again, the results are cryptic. No average is provided, 57 reviews logged somehow, and only a handful presented. Sometimes the surest way to avoid wasting 103 awful minutes is to just skip a thing. I’m a masochist with a remote, but managed to avoid wasting most of those 103 by jumping ahead in 10 minute intervals. Odds are excellent you won’t need me to steer you away and, if you do, nothing I could say would deter you.
Blood. Orange blood. Are you really ogling girls with orange blood?
#12 Area 407 (See also: Tape 407)
Directed by Dale Fabrigar and Everette Wallin
If “found footage” is your thing, maybe this will satisfy. As with most genres, I find that there’s a few exemplars (this genre suffering fewer than most) and this isn’t one of them. The average Netflix viewer could barely stand it, with an average of 2.5. Netflix predicts a 2.2 from me. Round down and maybe we’ll have a deal. IMDB trashes it with a 3.5 of 10. The Rotten Tomatoes audience seems to think I’m right.
There’s something wrong when even the trailer is poorly paced.
#13 Sand Sharks
Directed by Mark Atkins
Spoiler alert: promises to be too stupid to be actually bad. But seriously, sharks. That move. Through sand. Just no. All of my no. Any other redeeming qualities from the “so awful it’s good” camp, of which I’m an associate member, aside, just no. Two semesters of biology and an insistence that my suspension of disbelief not be expelled make this one a no-brainer. With a Netflix average of 2.6, they still think I’d give this a 2.1. They could be right, but I have serious doubts about that. Over 1200 users at IMDB averaged out to 2.8 out of 10. The RT audience basically shows its agreement with an average 1.7 of 5. For that matter, there’s not even a seller consensus as to when it was released. Netflix and IMDB list it as 2012. Rotten Tomatoes and Amazon have it as 2011. This far into the muck and even the year is in doubt. Even so, if B is your thing, this might be just the thing for you. Or not.
Just when you thought it was safe. Forget beaches and swimming. I’m moving into a bunker at the top of a tree.
Directed by Tim Martin. Rated R Okay, Netflix may have gotten this one backwards, which is surprising this far down the list. Review after review pans it. Netflix predicts I’ll give it the same as their average, 2.1. IMDB thoroughly trashes it with 1.9 of 10. Rotten Tomatoes only has one audience review, and that was 2.5 of 5. Yet, having only seen the trailer, which likely serves up all the best bits, there’s something just Cronenberg enough about this to tempt me. I predict a 4 star rating, providing the acting isn’t so abysmal that it just can’t be stomached. Will I watch it by year’s end? Maybe. Time is short.
What’s eating you? Oh, that.
Directed by Bruce Davison. Starring Danny Bonaduce, Sherilyn Fenn, and Alice Cooper. Rated TV-14 Okay, I think it’s a safe bet that I could hate this movie and still give it 4 stars at a minimum, if only because of Sherilyn Fenn and Alice Cooper. Recommending this one on that basis would be like being that YouTube junky friend of yours that tortures you with “just one more random video.” I’m okay with that. Netflix users gave it an average of 2.6 stars. Clearly they lack the refined sensibilities that would permit Sherilyn Fenn and Alice Cooper to overcome any and every shortcoming. Netflix predicts a 1.6 from me, demonstrating a total failure to foresee my capricious tastes. IMDB users give it a 2.8 of 10. Rotten Tomatoes claims that five users rated it, but only one shows up, and that’s a 5 of 5. Gotta be my long lost twin. Seriously, this is made for TV. How bad can it possibly be? < / sarcasm >
Sherilyn Fenn and Alice Cooper! What more need be said? Any actual movie is icing on the cake.
#16 1313: Cougar Cult
Directed by David DeCoteau Not rated / TV-14 (Netflix) Just when I got my hopes up that the end of this list might not be so awful after all, there’s this, and it’s partner in crime within what appears to be a 1313 franchise. With an average of 1.7, Netflix predicts I’ll give it a 1.6. Maybe they’ve nearly got me figured out after all, even if they’re off by .6. Maybe I’ll surprise myself by liking this. Maybe I’ll also take up scrubbing my eyeballs with steel wool. It could happen. IMDB gives it 2.1 of 10. The Rotten Tomatoes audience amount to 2, and that averages to 0.25 stars. The horror.
Rated for mature audiences, but you’ll watch it anyway.
#17 1313: Frankenqueen
Directed by David DeCoteau Not rated What’s to be said that hasn’t been said yet? With an average of 1.6, Netflix somehow figures I’ll like this infinitesimally more than Cougar Cult with a prediction of 1.7. All I can do is shake my head. Yet somehow, IMDB leaps to 5 out of 10 for it and Rotten Tomatoes viewers give it 2.7 of 5. Can they know something Netflix doesn’t know? In this case, I just refuse to believe it.
Is it worth the time to actually figure out what happens? I think not.
#18 2-Headed Shark Attack
Directed by Christopher Ray. Starring Carmen Electra Rated R Last, but I’m not sure about least, especially considering those last two, we had to get in one more creature feature B-movie. With an average of 2.7, Netflix predicts I won’t completely hate it. Maybe they’re right. Maybe this is 1.6 star material, smack in the middle of active dislike and loathing. May I never find out. IMDB users seem to agree, having given it a mere 2.6 of 10. Rotten Tomatoes viewers gave it a 2.1.
Moral of the story: Netflix, SRSLY, WTF? We know your streaming-only customers are the redheaded stepchildren of your subscription base, but this is just pathetic.
Epilogue: Murders in the Rue Morgue was not linked to Amazon because they simply do not have it available on DVD. The choice of the moment was imported PAL-format VHS from Italy, new or used, or a used, presumably NTSC, VHS. A real winner! Yes, yes, I know some of the very best movies have effectively gone out of print. Seriously, this isn’t one of those.
Featured image credit: Photo by creepyhalloweenimages, licensed under Creative Commons. All other images and video: All rights reserved by their respective owners.
Thanks, Frank. Yeah, horror pickings are slim on Netflix streaming. I’ve been jilted again and again. Best new horror story I’ve come across this year isn’t a movie, but a book: “Breed” by one Chase Novak (pseudonym of literary writer Scott Spencer). Free, at your library!