Car crashes? Are hot.
Car crashes? Are hot. Courtesy of Fine Line Features
Unstreamable is a weekly column that finds films and TV shows you can't watch on major streaming services in the United States. For our final column of the year, we're looking back at ten of our favorite unstreamable films we wrote about in 2020. Here's our list of horny, unsettling, joyous, and trashy movies not on major streaming services, presented in chronological order:

THE TELEPHONE BOOK
United States, 1971, 80 min, Dir. Nelson Lyon
I forgot to take a picture of the DVD, ok.
A great film about phone sex. Courtesy Rosebud Films
The Telephone Book is smut of the highest order. Every frame is perverted, twisted fun. I felt giddy the entire time watching it, like I was flipping through a Playboy for the first time. Though there's no full penetration, Telephone Book is, without a doubt, a pretty porny (or "porn chic" as producer Merv Bloch says) affair. The film is centered around Alice (Sarah Kennedy), a perpetually horny woman who receives Thee Most Obscene And Hottest sex phone call from an unknown caller. Determined to bang him in real life, she pours through the telephone book, encountering pervy stranger after stranger, looking for the peen that matches the mysterious voice.

Sponsored
Ride the scenic gondola and meet Mt. Rainier face to face this summer at Crystal Mountain.
The summit is home to Washington State’s highest elevation restaurant, with elevated food and views.

It's a sexy romp that constantly breaks the fourth wall and includes dreamy, hilarious side plots to get lost into. Telephone Book was a critical and financial failure when it first came out, but lived on as an underseen cult film (that apparently inspired Last Tango in Paris) until distributor Vinegar Syndrome restored and rereleased it in 2013. In the producer's commentary, Bloch said that, despite their best efforts, the film received an "X" rating in large part due to Len Glasser's very explicit (and explosive) cartoon sequence that closes the movie—you must see it. JASMYNE KEIMIG

Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video.

***

PINK FLAMINGOS
USA, 1972, 93 min, Dir. John Waters
I think this is normal in Europe.
I think this is normal in Europe. Courtesy of Pink Flamingos

I should apologize for waiting so long to bring up that Pink Flamingos is Unstreamable. In my defense, I didn't know. I honestly thought it was in the Criterion Collection.*

The first time I saw Pink Flamingos was also the first time I met John Waters. (I wrote about it here.) I guess it's funny I even thought this would be available to stream, which is a testament to Waters' current place in pop culture but an erasure of the film's smut. In one scene, Divine gets poppers and a pig's head for her birthday. They all do drugs, and then a performer flexes his prolapsed anus in rhythm to "Surfin' Bird." The police come, but Divine kills them with a meat cleaver and eats them. Everyone, even the murdered people, seems to be having fun.

Things are burned, blowjobs are given, penises are cut off, people are convicted of "assholism," and, finally, after more murder, Divine concludes the rampage by finding a little dog, watching it shit, and then eating it. For a gay kid who grew up mouthy, femme, and poor, that shit-eating grin gave me permission to relish in the freedom of being a reject. CHASE BURNS

*UPDATE: Flamingos is available via Criterion, just on... laserdisc.

Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video, Seattle Public Library, and Netflix DVD.

***

POSSESSION
France | West Germany, 1981, 124 min, Dir. Andrzej Zulawski
This scene haunts me.
This scene haunts me!! JK
In Andrzej Zulawski's genre-bending Possession, Mark (Sam Neill), a spy, returns home from a long job to discover his wife Anna (the incredible Isabelle Adjani) wants to separate. It's another man, she tells him. Mark spirals, and the couple starts to fight violently over their child and relationship. But as they slide deeper into the abyss of divorce, it becomes clear that Anna has a much more terrifying and supernatural lover she's been attending to. One with a thirst for blood and her total existence.

There's a profound emptiness pervading the film. The streets, restaurants, subway stations, and apartment buildings of West Berlin seem completely devoid of people save for Anna and Mark. This emptiness—and camera operator Andrzej J. Jaroszewicz's dynamic Steadicam work—makes the couple's demonic marital breakdown the surreal center of a cold, blue-twinged universe located along the Berlin Wall.

And, my god, Adjani gives one of the most disturbing performances ever as Anna. A big moment for cinema. Possession (and Anna) will stay with me for a long time. JASMYNE KEIMIG

Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video and Netflix DVD.

***

POISON IVY
USA, 1992, 93 minutes, Dir. Katt Shea

WHAT IVY WANTS IVY GETS
WHAT IVY WANTS IVY GETS Poison Ivy

This culty erotic thriller received enough negative criticism from ignorant men when New Line Cinema released it in 1992, so I won't waste time confronting its apparent problems. I'll just write from my wicked little heart: I love Poison Ivy—but of course I love Poison Ivy, because I love the color red, and I love lots of rain in a movie, and I love horny melodrama. Director Katt Shea stuffs Poison Ivy with all three.

A teenaged Drew Barrymore plays Ivy, a poisonous teen and powerful slut. She befriends a weird girl named Sylvie (played by Sara Gilbert), and they begin a lesbianesque relationship. Not quite lesbian. But almost. Ivy quickly moves in with Sylvie (why? just because) and her parents, who own a pink castle. Sylvie's father is a Danny Westneat-like editorialist, and Sylvie's mom is bedridden and hot. Ivy turns on the entire family, eventually murders one of them, fucks another, and spends the rest of the film tormenting the third.

Singer SZA named a song after Barrymore, and specifically Barrymore's performance in Poison Ivy. Let's close this blurb with SZA's take on the movie: “She was fucking up families and being weird, but she really just wanted to be loved. She was lashing out because she was lonely and pissed that her life was like this. I felt that.” I felt that, too. CHASE BURNS

Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video and Netflix DVD. (Yes, there's an okay copy of it on Dailymotion, but we don't consider user-generated videos to be streamable.*)

***

ALMA'S RAINBOW
USA, 1994, 85 min, Dir. Ayoka Chenzira
Criminal that this movie didnt get a wider release.
Criminal that this movie didn't get a wider release. Courtesy of Red Carnelian Home Video
My mind immediately goes to Leslie Harris's Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. when I watch Ayoka Chenzira's film Alma's Rainbow. Both films were directed by Black women during a time without many Black female directors. Both chart girls as they navigate their way to womanhood in New York City. Both feature incredible costumes. And both films still have not received their due, decades after the fact.

But while Just Another Girl confronts weightier issues like abortion, Alma's Rainbow is lighter, concentrated on puberty's beginning stages. The film follows Rainbow (Victoria Gabrielle Platt) as she rebels against her mother Alma (Kim Weston-Moran), which starts after her sexy Aunt Ruby (Mizan Kirby), a performer, unexpectedly camps out with the family for a while. Though it doesn't necessarily break the mold in terms of plot, the characters (and their bright costumes) are what give it life.

The film gives as much attention to the relationship between Alma and Ruby as it does to Rainbow. The result is a film that unspools the complex relationships between two generations of women—it's fucking refreshing. Watching Alma's Rainbow today makes me wish I had access to it as a teen when I was craving stories featuring fully-fleshed out awkward Black girls. I'm just glad I found it now.

Also, keep your eyes peeled for '90s-era hot-boy Isaiah Washington. This is his third Unstreamable appearance. JASMYNE KEIMIG

Available for rental on VHS at Scarecrow Video. There's no trailer for Alma's Rainbow since it only had a limited released on VHS, but here's director Ayoka Chenzira talking about the making of the film.

***

DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE
Italy | France | Germany, 1994, 105 minutes, Dir. Michele Soavi
The picture I really wanted to use is too X-rated.
The picture I really wanted to use is too X-rated. DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE

Which one of you assholes knew about Dellamorte Dellamore and didn't tell me about it?! I wish I'd learned of this film years ago, and so now I'm paying it forward by demanding you watch this if you've got a thing for 1) daddy-fop Rupert Everett, 2) schlocky Italian horror, and/or 3) a horned-up zombie Anna Falchi.

The basic premise here is that Everett plays a cemetery custodian with a slight problem: the dead keep coming back to life. They die for good pretty easily—Everett's character just needs to chop their heads in two—but it's still a pain in the ass. The film starts out as a zombie flick, and then it's a softcore porno, and then it's a serial killer flick, and then it's existential surrealism. Just roll with it and be happy you still have a head.

The film is an excellent entry point into the world of director Michele Soavi, known for being Dario Argento's longtime assistant and collaborator. Their styles occasionally overlap, but Soavi is much funnier while still keeping it sexy, bloody, and Italian. US audiences would love this film if it were easier to find. Scarecrow has multiple copies, and someone else had checked out one of them when I last visited. People want it!! CHASE BURNS

Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video and Netflix DVD.

***

CRASH
Canada, 1996, 100 min, Dir. David Cronenberg
Car crashes? Are hot.
Car crashes? Are hot. Courtesy Fine Line Features
My life has been cleaved in two: Before I Watched Crash and After I Watched Crash. It's hard to believe that we as a society were able to make more films after its release. This horny Cronenberg movie about cars says it all. Weirdly hot, but also cold as ice.

Based off a J.G. Ballard novel of the same name, Crash follows James Ballard (James Spader!), a film producer in a sexually unfulfilling and open relationship with his wife Catherine (Deborah Kara Unger). When Ballard gets into a gruesome car crash, he and Catherine slowly become involved with a group of car crash survivors who have eroticized their accidents and the injuries sustained during them. They get wet over car crashes.

Together they grab each other's genitals and watch car crash simulations. Take pictures of bodies in twisted metal along the highway. Fuck each other's leg wounds. Their desire seems to be as mechanical as the vehicles they get hard for, but instead of thinking of their crashes as traumatic events, the group sees them as the pinnacle of eroticism. Slamming into another vehicle is one of the most intense feelings one can experience and survive, after all. "The car crash is a fertilizing rather than a destructive event," says Vaughan (Elias Koteas), the pack's de facto ringleader. And you know what, I almost believe him.
JASMYNE KEIMIG

Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video, Seattle Public Library, and Netflix DVD.

***

GIRL 6
USA, 1996, 108 minutes, Dir. Spike Lee
Seeing Theresa Randles performance in Girl 6 makes me wish she was in everything.
Seeing Theresa Randle's performance in Girl 6 makes me wish she was in everything. Courtesy of Fox Searchlight
Girl 6 is the first movie Spike Lee directed but did not write—the script was written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Suzan-Lori Parks. It's a horny and stylish study of a young Black actress (Theresa Randle) who becomes a phone sex operator to help support her acting career. Quickly, Girl 6, as she's called at work, gets pulled into the fantasy world she creates for her callers, finding more validation from the white men whacking it to her voice than the white men in charge of hiring her for acting roles.

Though featuring classic Lee-missteps—a bloated third act, heavy moralizing around Black women's sexualities—the real lynchpin in Girl 6 is Randle. As Girl 6, she's alluring yet innocent; in control, but a little tumultuous; dreamy and clever. She can convincingly slip into any character at work: the girl next door, the dominatrix, the housewife. In daydream sequences, Randle also embodies other iconic Black roles, from Dorothy Dandridge in Carmen Jones to Pam Grier in Foxy Brown. Girl 6 was Randle's major vehicle, and, in a just world, she'd be booked and busy after it. It's more than a little ironic that a movie about the misogyny Black women face in the film industry wasn't enough to launch Randle. It breaks my heart.

Also of note: major cameos by Naomi Campbell as phone sex operator Girl 75, Madonna as a strip club manager, and Lee's mortal enemy Quentin Tarantino as a pervy white director casting Black actresses for "the greatest romantic African American film ever made—directed by me of course!" (Lee and Tarantino would have a falling out a year later with the release of Jackie Brown). The movie's soundtrack is wall-to-wall Prince songs, which adds a huge dollop of sex to the scenes and bolsters the film's perspective. Prince is also the likely reason why Girl 6 is so damn hard to find online. JASMYNE KEIMIG

Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video.

***

JACKIE'S BACK
USA, 1999, 120 min, Dir. Robert Townsend
That's a lot of celebrities.
That's a lot of celebrities. CB
I first heard about Jackie's Back on RuPaul and Michelle Visage's good-but-retired podcast, What's the Tee. Jenifer Lewis was a guest on an episode—listen here—and RuPaul gushed about how much he loved Jackie's Back, a Lifetime TV movie starring Lewis and directed by Robert Townsend that RuPaul herself calls a cult classic. The basic premise is that '70s diva Jackie Washington (Lewis) is making a comeback, and the mockumentary follows her as she stages her revival.

Lewis says the whole movie was inspired by a Shirley Bassey documentary called Have Voice, Will Travel (I haven't seen it, but it's on the list), where the great diva hyperbolically tells her own legend—until the camera cuts to her crew, who go, as Lewis describes it, "Well, no, it didn't... quite happen like that, Ms. Bassey." That tension, between the overblown diva and her crew, underlines much of the jokes in Jackie's Back.

In her What's the Tee episode, Lewis says her audiobook producers never let her be "JENIFER LEWIS!! JENIFER LEWIS!! JENIFER LEWIS!!" only "Jenifer Lewis"—meaning she had to tone it down. In Jackie's Back, we get full JENIFER LEWIS!! JENIFER LEWIS!! JENIFER LEWIS!! CHASE BURNS

Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video and Seattle Public Library.

***

THE TASTE OF TEA
Japan, 2004, 143 minutes, Dir. Katsuhito Ishii

Dont you hate it when you cant stop looking at yourself.
That feeling when you can't stop looking at yourself. The Taste of Tea

Director Katsuhito Ishii has said his Cannes-opening film The Taste of Tea "isn't too deep." But if you watch the film's gorgeous and trippy and gentle trailer, you'll probably have a lot of questions. Like, why is a big girl haunting that little girl? And why is a train coming out of that teen's forehead? "It could be something or nothing," Ishii says. "Refreshing is what I'd call it." That framing is the best way to watch this psychedelic opus: It "could be something or nothing." Take it as it comes. Let the big moments hit you and then leave you.

Jasmyne and I have talked a lot about how it's much easier to write short blurbs for things we kind of like or don't really like than things we really like, because a 200-word limit makes it hard to capture a big thought. I really, really like this film; it's something I want to carry around with me and replay in my head. Fortunately, my favorite distribution company, Third Window Films, just released the film on Blu-ray, which gives me an excuse to write something a little longer. Someone email me a reminder so I don't forget. In the meantime, let the trailer fill your head with trains and sunsets. CHASE BURNS

Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video and Netflix DVD.

Unstreamable means we couldn't find it on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, or any of the other 300+ streaming services available in the United States. We also couldn't find it available for rent or purchase through platforms like Prime Video or iTunes. We don't consider user-generated videos, like unauthorized YouTube uploads, to be streamable.