FlixWorthy: They Never Drink...Wine
Welcome back to FlixWorthy, your weekly guide to Netflix streaming. Yet again we're bringing you a handful of new or notable selections from Netflix's streaming catalogue. Some will be classics, some will be little-seen gems, some will be shows you might have missed, and some...some will be crap so awful they simply has to be seen to be believed. Here's what's FlixWorthy this week, kids.
(1985, Rated R, 106 min.)
In what's becoming an all too common occurrence, here's yet another chance to watch the original movie before the impending remake. Eighties camp horror classic Fright Night is getting a spit-and-polish courtesy of director Craig Gillespie and screenwriter Marti Noxon, due out in 2011. Unlike a lot of the more pointless remakes these days, this one might actually be worthwhile. While it has its following, there are probably plenty of potential audience members who've never ever heard of the original. They've also lined up a solid cast including Colin Farrell, Toni Collette, and Anton Yelchin, and Noxon is a proven talent with a resume including everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Mad Men. Supposedly the new version will stick pretty closely to the original concept: a young horror fan becomes convinced that his neighbor is a vampire. Naturally, his mom doesn't believe him -- they never do -- so he enlists a washed-up actor who used to play a monster hunter to help foil the neighborhood nosferatu.
Double-Feature It With...
Masters of Horror: We All Scream for Ice Cream
(2007, Not Rated, 57 min.)
Speaking of campy horror, it's hard to get much campier than the logline for Fright Night director Tom Holland's episode of Masters of Horror. A few decades after a group of young friends accidentally killed a mentally challenged ice cream man, Buster the Clown's ghost has returned to prove that old saw about the relation between temperature and revenge-satisfaction levels. Which he does by turning people into ice cream and melting them in gruesome fashion. No, I'm not kidding.
(2008, Rated R, 114 min.)
Speaking of vampires and remakes, we come to this cult Swedish flick about a bullied 12-year-old boy and his friendship with an apparently young girl of the bloodsucking persuasion. With a frankly amazing 97% fresh rating over on RottenTomatoes, the film racked up a list of awards as long as Doug Jones' arm and has been raved about by everyone I know who's seen it. Cloverfield director Matt Reeves talked with Josh Tyler about his upcoming Americanized remake back at SXSW, but no matter how good or bad that winds up being, you can't go wrong with the original. Unless you have some sort of allergy to Swedes, subtitles, or vampires who will never be able to get a driver's license. Let's just hope they don't Twilight up the new version.
Double-Feature It With:
(1929, Not Rated, 81 min., HD)
Travel back to a simpler time, a time when vampires weren't horribly over-exposed. Where they did not sparkle in direct sunlight, nor were they crush objects for teenage girls. When they were still, you know, scary. Director F.W. Murnau's silent classic adapts Bram Stoker's Dracula without ever actually using the name Dracula. Because they weren't allowed to.
(2008, Not Rated, 6 episodes, HD)
The concept for Morgan Spurlock's addictive FX series was simple: place people in unfamiliar or uncomfortable settings that will challenge their beliefs or preconceptions, then watch what happens. Over three seasons the show paired straight dudes with gay guys, atheists with Christians, and gun-control advocates with enthusiastic firearm owners. Spurlock would also star in some episodes himself, exploring 30-day experiments to see what it's like to survive on minimum wage, spend a month in the slammer, or work in a coal mine. This third season opens with the latter, then moves on to explore "30 Days in a Wheelchair," "Animal Rights," "Same-Sex Parenting," "Gun Nation," and "Life on an Indian Reservation." I'm still sad this show hasn't returned for a fourth season, because the concept is virtually limitless. The show occasionally borders on overwrought, but at its best it's funny and thought-provoking. Best of all, the first two seasons are also available streaming right here and here.
Double-Feature It With...
Super Size Me
(2004, Rated PG-13, 98 min., HD)
Spurlock's most recent (and most controversial) documentary, Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden? isn't available streaming, so we'll step back to the film that introduced most people to Spurlock in the first place. You can see the genesis of 30 Days in Super Size Me, with Spurlock subjecting his body to a month of nothing but McDonald's food, and thankfully the film succeeds as more than just an exercise in schadenfreude.
(1979, Rated R, 94 minutes)
Since I recommended both Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Roxanne in this column a few weeks ago, my love for Steve Martin is well documented. He was nigh inescapable in theaters during the '80s, but The Jerk was where it all started for Martin's big-screen career (aside from things like his brilliant cameo as the "Would you like to sniff the bottlecap?" waiter in The Muppet Movie), with the stand-up co-writing and taking the leading role. If you've never seen it, this is what Martin was referencing during the Oscars when he mentioned that both he and Precious star Gabourey Sidibe were both "born a poor black child" in their first movies. In Martin's case, he plays idiot manchild Navin Johnson, who hits the road for adventure after discovering he isn't black like the rest of his family. Along the way, he strikes it rich, romances Bernadette Peters, and spouts quotes that will eventually be referenced on Freaks and Geeks.
Double-Feature It With:
(1980, Rated R, 111 min.)
While Richard Pryor didn't get to share the screen with Gene Wilder in Blazing Saddles as he was originally intended to, it didn't stop the pair from spending a good portion of the late '70s and '80s mugging opposite each other in films such as See No Evil, Hear No Evil and this one. Wilder and Pryor's comedic chemistry is never less than magical, and this story about a case of mistaken identity landing the pair in prison was also directed by Sidney Freakin' Poitier.
(1998, Unrated, 104 min.)
I'd never heard of Funny Games prior to the release of the shot-for-shot American remake from 2008. Both versions share both a director (Michael Haneke) and the same basic plot: a family is chilling in their vacation home when they're taken hostage by a pair of men who proceed to torment them with a series of sadistic games, daring the family to survive until morning. Our own Katey Rich left the remake unimpressed and angry, and it didn't fare much better with critics as a whole. Your enjoyment will likely depend on your tolerance for sadism couched as a critique of filmic violence. For a movie about torture, however, the film is supposedly not very graphic, relying instead on your imagination and the inherently disturbing subject matter. So if you're just looking for torture porn, rewatch Saw or something.
Double-Feature It With:
A Clockwork Orange
(1971, Rated R, 137 min.)
Whether you like Funny Games or not, why not top the evening off with an even better movie starring ultra-violent sadists in white ensembles?
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