Unstreamable is a column that finds films and TV shows you can't watch on major streaming services in the United States.*
In honor of Scarecrow Video's annual Psychotronic Challenge, which happens every October, we're choosing unstreamable films that check off boxes on the challenge's watch list this month.
Hello October!! It is day 1 of Scarecrow's "Psychotronic Challenge" and the theme for today is Re-animations! There's no better way then to start off with the olde grandpa of Re-animation classics, James Whale's adaptation of Mary Shelley's "FRANKENSTEIN". Play along!! pic.twitter.com/xxNfqc7SEO
— ScarecrowVideo (@ScarecrowVideo) October 1, 2021
If you're unfamiliar with the word "psychotronic," Scarecrow uses Oxford English Dictionary's definition: "Denoting or relating to a genre of films that typically have a science fiction, horror, or fantasy theme and were made on a low budget."
A note from the Scarecrow staff about the challenge:
We staff don’t necessarily subscribe to the low budget part of that definition since movies like A Quiet Place Part II and Terminator 2: Judgement Day are not exactly low budget affairs but are well within the above mentioned sub-genres. That being said, we do like an underdog more often than not and when you’re challenging the mean you might as well have a lot of fun pushing yourself to new lows.
The basic guidelines are:
📼Watch at least 1 movie per day during the month of October in whatever order suits you.
📼Must fall within the psychotronic definition.
📼Have fun and get weird.
📼If you see something, say something! Post your watches on social media and make sure to tag them with #SCVpsychochallenge. @scarecrowvideo (twitter and facebook) @scarecrow.video.official (instagram)
Here's a link to the challenge's watch list. Let's get to it.
Italy, 1991, 125 min, Dir. Michele Soavi
Cut through Scarecrow's Psychotronic Challenge in any order you want, but if you're looking for a linear path through these shady woods, then the challenge for today, October 1, is: "RE-ANIMATED: Businesses are opening back up (we did!) and things are getting back to 'normal,' so to kick things off you get to watch a movie where something gets brought back to life."
My pick for this prompt is Argento-buddy Michele Soavi's Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetery Man), which features Rupert Everett as a cemetery custodian with a slight problem: the dead keep coming back to life. They die for good pretty quickly (Everett's character just needs to chop their heads in two), but it's still a pain in the ass. The movie veers; it's a zombie flick-cum-softcore porno-cum-serial killer romp-cum-term paper on existential surrealism. Just roll with it and be happy you still have your head by the end of it.
I already wrote about Dellamorte Dellamore for this column, so we'll lead today with another Soavi fever dream: The Sect. It fills a few of the prompts, notably: "REEKING HAVOC: Sewer dwellers making a mess of things up on the surface." + "RITUALS: It's good to have a routine, even if it's evil."
It's a totally mad film that travels from SoCal to Frankfurt, following a devil-worshipping Charles Mansonesque cult as they try to suck an elementary school teacher into the **** **** underneath her *****. It's rare to find a movie so equally stylish, funny, and scary. I feel like Lady Gaga would like it. CHASE BURNS
United Kingdom, 1978, 84 min, Dir. Norman Warren
The plot of Norman J. Warren's Terror is relatively straightforward: James Garrick (John Nolan) and his cousin Ann (Carolyn Courage) come from a long line of hexed individuals. Hundreds of years ago, their ancestors burned a witch on a pyre, and, in return, she condemned their descendants to grueling deaths. James decided to make a movie about the intergenerational curse that left only him and his cousin standing. So, duh, a supernatural entity decides to pick off James and Ann's close circle of beautiful actor-friends before going in for the main course.
This British horror film fits neatly into two prompts from this year's Psychotronic Challenge, #8) Craft Night and #17) Heads Off at the Pass. A witch's curse propels the movie (for Craft Night), which features a decapitation not even five minutes into its first act (for Heads Off at the Pass). Terror also takes significant cues from Italian giallos, with Dario Argento's Suspiria clearly a main inspiration. Characters meet their untimely demises under kaleidoscopic light gels, bright red blood spewing from their bodies. It's a bloody and weirdly sexy hidden gem. JASMYNE KEIMIG
United States, 1998, 86 min, Dir. Bret McCormick
This DVD cover called to me like a siren, and I hoped it would satisfy this psychotronic prompt: "HIGH SPIRITS: Tickle your funny bones with a side splitter, a gut buster." Half-ladies, half-gators? I was born in Florida, so I felt obligated.
Obviously, it's terrible. Repligator comes from producer and director Bret McCormick, a man who made low-budget shlock throughout the '90s. He started his decade of crap with One Man War, which stars Dan Haggerty as what looks like a rural redneck terrorist who gets into gunfights with the government, and ended it with Repligator, about an army experiment that turns male soldiers into horny ladies and then into gators. In an interview, McCormick said he was trying to create five movies in one year when he made Repligator, using "schlockmeister" Larry Buchanan and Roger Corman as inspirations. What started as a three-day shoot ended as a six-day shoot, but the extra three days don't seem to have helped much.
I expected a bunch of characters running around wearing gator heads and bikinis, which does happen, but only for about five minutes. The rest of the scenes are like community theater. If you watch it, maybe play it on mute and in the background of a dive bar. CHASE BURNS
Italy | France, 1984, 90 min, Dir. Lamberto Bava
Sticking with the Florida theme: I've been daydreaming about the Sunshine State, specifically its environment, not its awful politics or its danger. The white sands, clear waters, unending skies, muggy swamps—a welcome reprieve from our mushy PNW. That's why the setting of Devil Fish a.k.a. Monster Shark, which takes place off a south Florida coast, lured me into renting it. Sadly, this obvious Jaws ripoff is lackluster, especially because there's not even a good glimpse of the titular monster!!!
The plot is loosey-goosy, but here goes: Two hot scientists, Peter and Stella, try to figure out which sea beast is snacking on fisherman and swimmers for lunch. People are turning up limbless, shredded to bits in the sea. To make matters worse, another antagonistic group of scientists tries to intervene in Peter and Stella's quest, thwarting them at every turn. Not to spoil anything, but the military is definitely involved, and they may or may not have spliced prehistoric armored jawfish DNA with octopus DNA. There's a little bit of sex, too. Devil Fish firmly knocks #5) It Came From the Sea off your list. JASMYNE KEIMIG
*Unstreamable means we couldn't find it on Netflix, Hulu, Shudder, 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. Yes, we know you can find many things online illegally, but we don't consider user-generated videos, like unauthorized YouTube uploads, to be streamable.