HEY BASTARDS. Welcome to another edition of PSYCHOTRONIC NETFLIX! This week we’ve got a poorly-counted dozen of flicks with pimps, snuff film enthusiasts and Norwegian trolls.

10. Willie Dynamite (1974)


Gordon from “Sesame Street,” Roscoe Orman, plays a pimp who gets involved with a social worker who tries to reform him in this oddly dramatic piece of blaxploitation, which has a lot more depth than the title character’s insanely garish outfits would suggest. With Thalmus Rasulala and BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS’ Marcia McBroom.


9. Kansas City Confidential (1952)


There’s nothing particularly impressive about the ploy of this classic piece of noir, as an ex-con gets framed for robbery and has to track down the real bad guys, but it’s a great example of the genre, with great character actors (Lee Van Cleef, Jack Elam, Neville Brand, Preston Foster) and a sadistic edge that really makes it a memorable treat.

8. Chasing Sleep (2000)


Michael Walker’s underrated little thriller about a college professor (Jeff Daniels) investigating the disappearance of his wife went straight to video, but it’s an impressively clever, eerie film that embraces audience discomfort while keeping a dark sense of humor. With Molly Price and Gil Bellows.

7. A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)


Weirdly, Netflix has the Siu-Tung Chung’s sword-heavy fantasy ghost story trilogy oddly out of order. The first CHINESE GHOST STORY is listed as CHINESE GHOST STORY II, Part 2 is Part 3, and Part 3 is under the title of the first film! At least they’re all there, and this is the first and best, with loads of humor, visuals and amazing fighting choreography.

6. Troll Hunter (2010)



This fun Norwegian horror film about a group of students who get involved with the title mystery man got some midnight showings across the country last year, but deserves a wider audience. It’s a impressively unique use of the overused “found footage” trope.

5. The Maze (1953)


William Cameron Menzies followed up 1953’s Invaders From Mars with this horror film about a jilted fiancée who journeys to a castle in Scotland to pursue her former beau, only to discover he’s aged horribly. More mysterious happenings occur in the creepy hedge maze, which were probably a lot more effective when originally released in 3-D.


4. Crack in the World (1965)


Scientist Dana Andrews’ plan to tap into Earth’s energies by blowing up a thermonuclear device in the middle of it (it’s not a particularly well-thought out plan) ends up leading the world to apocalyptic destruction in this classic sci-fi tale of Armageddon. It’s more talky than explodey, but it’s still a fun Saturday afternoon time-passer.

3. House of Shadows (1976)


One of the more obscure titles available on streaming is this Spanish gothic thriller, dubbed into English, about a young orphan girl who tries to solve a mystery in an old dark house. Token Americans in the cast are Yvonne DeCarlo and John Gavin, who helped this low-rent, but moody, horror flick garner an American release.

2. Vampire Circus (1972)


A 19th-century village in the midst of being ravaged by the plague is quite happy when the circus comes to town in this Hammer flick. But it’s a special kind of circus. (See title.) Garish and absurd, but never dull, this freaky fang flick stars Thorley Walters, Anthony Higgins and Adrienne Corri.

1. Peeping Tom (1960)


Michael Powell’s twisted thriller about a young filmmaker obsessed with shooting the faces of young women as they’re dying was lambasted by critics in its’ time, but has come to be recognized as an influential classic. It’s a stunningly beautiful predecessor to the “faux snuff” films it later inspired.

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  • Reply
    May 18, 2012

    Thanks for reminding me about The Maze. I actually saw it in a little art house theater back in the early ’80s when I was a kid. Can’t wait to see it again.

  • Reply
    May 18, 2012

    Oh, Vampire Circus.. “never dull”, how often can you say that about a Hammer film?

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