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Each month, we’ll take you on a trip down the proverbial video aisle to look at some of the latest and best indie horror releases you need to check out.

Down the Video Aisle

Remember going to the video store and seeing those movies that were free with a paid rental? They were always older or lesser known films that you just grabbed based on an actor or the cover because why not, it’s free! A lot of cool movies were discovered that way. So I decided to add what I call “Free Rental” to this new releases article. This Free Rental pick will be a kick ass indie flick — whether it came out 40 years ago or just last year — that is available to watch free on popular streaming platforms (Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Shudder, Tubi etc).

With that in mind, let’s take our monthly stroll down the video aisle and pick out some movies to watch!

STAFF PICK

Porno

(Available 5/8 on VOD)

The year is 1992. When a group of movie theater employees get left alone on a Friday night after close to watch a movie, they find an old, kind of frightening homeless man wandering in one of the theaters. They chase him off and discover a hidden door in the theater that leads to the basement housing a mysterious, old film reel. Forget the other two options, this is the film of the night!

But this is no ordinary film, as our group of teens will soon find out.

Porno is a fast paced and atmospheric horror-adventure film with a clever coming of age story underlining its sin-soaked tale of temptation and the punishments that comes with it. When the old film releases an alluring succubus, the teens must overcome temptation as they are approached one by one by the sex demon, with their faith being put to the test.

The succubus (played by a sexy as hell Katelyn Pearce) adds a strong, enticing element that creates excellent tension for the film to pump up and deflate numerous times as the kids deal with the almost impossible to resist urges she drums up within them. But giving in to her steamy suggestiveness leads to quite literally explosive and very gory results right where the sun don’t shine.

The practical effects here are fantastically over the top, and the camera doesn’t cut away after a second of blood or mutilation.

It stays on the action and practically sprays the blood in your face. Lots of great moments and good stuff like this to love about Porno, even an inclusive storyline laid out early on that sets the table for a crazy, balls-to-the-wall ending.

The film does take a couple of unfortunate eye-rolling turns, especially one involving the theater manager Mr. Pike that really leads to no point or payoff whatsoever. It felt like both a cheap shot and a forced sequence to generate shock value, a weak development in an otherwise solid script.

But overall Porno is a wild and fun flick and director Keola Racela is one to keep an eye on. 3.5/5, Rent It!

“When five teen employees at a local movie theater in a small Christian town discover a mysterious old film hidden in its basement, they unleash an alluring succubus who gives them a sex education…written in blood.”                         

FIRST LOOK: REVIEWED RELEASE

A Nun’s Curse

(Available 5/12 on VOD & DVD)

Anthony is the perfect frat boy dick mand Damian Maffei is perfect to play him. His character is both fun to hate and fun to watch. The guy just wants to get the weekend started, loose track of how many Keystones he pounds, and bone his girlfriend Gabby. Played exceptionally well by Kristi Ray, Gabby is the perfect bitchy counterpart, annoyed by everything and anything, especially her sister Ashley-Kae (Erika Edwards).

Rounding out the group is Erika Edwards as Ashley-Kae and Gunner Willis as Michael, Ashley-Kae’s friend who wants to be more than just a friend. Both successfully sell the sincere nerdiness of their characters making them really likable. You feel for the awkward Micheal. And between her terrifying childhood secret that haunts her to this day and the sensitive delivery of every word that leaves her mouth, you can’t help but be drawn to Edwards as Ashley-Kae.

And then there’s Felissa Rose, who is having so much damn fun as Sister Monday. Rose let’ the chilling calmness in her voice and twitching of her unblinking eyes make the character scary, until the shit hits the fan of course.

Writer and director Tommy Faircloth infuses life into his characters through simple conversations that impress with how naturally they build character in addition to progressing the story.  A lot of this development is aided by convincing humor and wisecracks, creating much needed personalities for the group of characters largely responsible for pushing the action forward.

While lively characters are a relief, you wish they moved around the space a bit more while waiting out the storm. The middle lags just a bit. And if the camera captured more of the naturally spooky jail during these talking head sequences (there’s a somewhat redundant flashback sequence that attempts to mask this), the film would have moved quicker here.

After these few talky scenes, that shit mentioned earlier starts to hit the fan, and the ghostly curse of Sister Monday starts to wreak havoc one by one on our group of naive storm-avoiders.

This is when the atmosphere of the old prison adds frightening layers to the story as it unfolds more. The laundry-detergent blue lighting looks great on the chipped up, grungy walls and thickly shining behind rusted bars and metal grate doors. Both the prison and the curse come roaring to life with fantastically bloody deaths and a few twisty surprises along the way.

A Nun’s Curse is a fun and scary midnight horror flick that is often very funny. But be aware of Felissa Rose who just might startle the popcorn out of your hands. 3.5/5, Rent It!

“A group of travelers are forced to seek shelter inside an abandoned jail where a notorious nun named Sister Monday had once been assigned and was suspected of murdering prisoners.”      

THE BARGAIN BIN: FREE RENTAL

Crawl or Die (2014)

(Streaming now on Amazon Prime, Vudu, and Tubi)

Endlessly claustrophobic, the characters feel like they’re crawling through their own coffins from an enemy that could lay just beyond the edge of the darkness. Every shadow thrown by flashlights could be the movement of the creature on the attack. And when the creature does attack, the viewer is treated to a whirring screech as the monster takes over and the sounds of struggle and death and feeding are enhanced.

There are constant creaks and tapping and wind and growling, some close by, some off in the distance, and all the noises create a constant hum, a hum that reminds the viewer something is out there and nowhere is safe.

Crawl Or Die rests squarely on the shoulders of its lead character Tank, fiercely played by Nicole Alonso. Alonso isn’t simply an actress here, she isn’t simply a character, she’s a full on force in an exhausting, gritty, and determined performance that will leave you breathless.

A dark and dizzying and hectic ride, Crawl Or Die uses small spaces to create big tension. There’s little dialogue to create a powerful urgency and little lighting to create fear of what lies in the dark. Big on heart and enormously entertaining, Crawl Or Die is independent film at it’s best.

Don’t crawl, run to this one. 4/5, Stream It!

An elite security team is assigned to protect the last known woman who can become pregnant. Finding themselves caught in an underground tunnel system the team soon realizes the real horror is not the deadly creature chasing them, but the ever shrinking tunnel itself.

MOST ANTICIPATED MAY RELEASES

Hunter’s Moon

(Available now on VOD)

I love a good werewolf movie (and a good trailer voice over)! Hunter’s Moon looks to have a little bit of everything: misty, mysterious woods, family drama, a home invasion, and the grizzled town cop caught in the middle of it all. Looks like it could be a lot of fun, something everyone could use right now. Also, what a great cast!

“A sheriff makes a strange discovery when he’s gets called to an orchard where three teenage sisters have been attacked by a band of young delinquents.”

The Lodge

(Available 5/5 on Blu, DVD, Digital & Hulu)

Slash Film called The Lodge “the next great horror film” and I have to agree with them. It’s a slow burn like frostbite, freezing your nerves at the height of anxiety. Bone chilling and completely unnerving, Riley Keough is phenomenal in this tragic tale that is cold as ghosts and claustrophobic as the grave. Watch this movie, it’s dark, haunting stuff that will linger around you while you sleep.

“A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé’s two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place.” 

Cry for the Bad Man

(Available 5/5 on VOD)

The chance to see Camille Keaton swinging a shotgun towards a trio of assholes is just too good to pass up! Cry For The Bad Man looks dark and violent, a perfect setting for Keaton to strut her kick ass stuff once again. Hey, if Jaime Lee Curtis can do it, so can Camille Keaton. Get excited for this one.

“A small-town widow receives a deadly ultimatum to sell her beloved property, and with her pleas to the town’s corrupt sheriff falling on deaf ears, she must take matters into her own hands. Her quest for justice turns into a grisly confrontation.”

Weird Fiction

(Available 5/12 on VOD)

If you want to pretend it’s 1985 and a mysterious and creepy looking face on a VHS cover caught your eye while wondering the aisles of your local video store, then look no further and watch this movie. Based on the trailer, the filmmakers nail the look and tone of a trashy 1980s horror flick. And Weird Fiction looks like a midnight watching, popcorn munching good time.

“The Collector’s midnight Halloween special comes once a year. Sink your fangs into four tales of TRUE terror. Follow the story of a group of teens in search of a missing body, a babysitter’s horrifying night, a vampire porn star, and two girls as they uncover what may be the end of the world as we know it.”

Inheritance

(Available 5/22 on VOD)

A suspense-thriller for adults with lawyers, bankers, politicians, family secrets, a hidden bunker, and Simon Pegg as we’ve never seen him — dirty, long-haired, and scary. There’s all sorts of mystery and intrigue going on in Inheritance, and I for one can’t wait to watch it all unravel, especially with Lily Collins in the middle of it all, showing off some gritty acting chops.

“A patriarch of a wealthy and powerful family suddenly passes away, leaving his wife and daughter with a shocking secret inheritance that threatens to unravel and destroy their lives.”

KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR THESE

Exorcism at 60,000 Feet

(Available 5/5 on VOD)

I’m loving the poster for this one, what a playful throwback to the disaster movies of the 1970s. The plot itself starts out like a joke (a priest, a rabbi, and an airline crew team…), so you know this will be goofy nonsense from the get-go. And based on the trailer, it absolutely is. Lance Henriksen and Bill Moseley are extra nudges to take this flight and just enjoy the fun absurdity of it all.

“On the last flight of a transatlantic passenger airliner, a priest, a rabbi and the airline crew team together to save a plane from a pandemic of demonic possessions.”

Union Bridge

(Available 5/19 on DVD & VOD)

There’s something about a thriller taking place in the South that gives it an extra layer of mystery. Maybe it’s because the beautiful settings juxtapose well with the evil secrets. Or maybe it’s because life moves slower down South, giving people more time to devise nefarious plots. Whatever it is, Union Bridge looks to take full advantage in what appears to be a decent film.

“After burning out in the city, Will Shipe is summoned back home where he uncovers dark truths about his family and the town he grew up in.”

Girls Just Wanna Have Blood

(Available 5/26 on DVD & VOD)

If you like your horror trashy and full of hot vampire girls, then Girls Just Wanna Have Blood is for you. Minus the nerdy vampire hunter, there doesn’t look to be much of a story happening here, but that’s the point. Movies like this exist for you to turn your brain off and just be entertained as you stare at the bloody sexiness onscreen, and that really doesn’t sound too bad.

“When Jessica’s accepted by a trio of fun loving vampires, she finds herself thrust into a lifestyle full of long nights, sex-crazed bikers, and blood suckin’.”

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