The Series Was the Best Thing to Come from the ’98 Film

New month, new horror recommendations from Deep Cuts Rising. This installment features selections reflecting the month of April 2024.

Regardless of how they came to be here, or what they’re about, these past movies can generally be considered overlooked, forgotten or unknown.

This month’s offerings include telepathic plants, ecological horrors, and a lot of killer cats.

The Uncanny (1977)


Pictured: The Uncanny (1977)

Directed by Denis Héroux.

The Uncanny is a two-for kind of deal: it works for both National Pet Day (April 11) and Tell a Story Day (April 27). Here we have Peter Cushing‘s character talking at length about the evils of cats, with his three examples fleshing out this singular anthology. And while this film is often mistaken for an Amicus production, it was, in fact, made by The Rank Organisation. However, Amicus co-founder Milton Subotsky was also a co-producer.

The Uncanny has a tendency to be one-note in its execution and story styles; vengeful felines come up more than once in the film. Even so, these macabre, cat-centric segments told in EC Comics fashion are more entertaining than not.

Watch The Uncanny at streaming sites such as SCREAMBOX.

The Kirlian Witness (1979)


Pictured: The Kirlian Witness (1979)

Directed by Jonathan Sarno.

The Kirlian Witness (also known as The Plants are Watching) fits the bill when looking for something to watch on International Plant Appreciation Day (April 13). Similar to Eyes of Laura Mars, this film’s story is built on pseudoscience. More specifically, Kirlian photography. Nancy Snyder‘s character Rilla hopes to use this technique — revealing the energy field, or aura, of people and other animate things — to solve her sister’s murder. However, the only witness to the sister’s death, apart from the mysterious killer, is a plant. Rilla’s bizarre investigation eventually leads her to a startling discovery.

Jonathan Sarno’s film is a certified slow-burn, but it’s also intriguing and good-looking. This oddball of crime-solving horror is, at the very least, unique.

The Kirlian Witness is available for rental/purchase (under its alias) at digital retailers like Apple TV.

Scream for Help (1984)


Pictured: Scream for Help (1984)

Directed by Michael Winner.

For Scream Day this year (April 24), why not visit Scream for Help? In this teenage thriller filtered through Death Wish, a Nancy Drew type suspects her stepfather is up to no good. And when her suspicions are proven right, she and her mother have to fight for their lives.

Scream for Help had the makings of a standard ’80s teen-slasher, but this turned out to be more like an “afterschool special meets home invasion” flick. And a hilarious one at that. It was likely not Michael Winner’s intention for this film to be so laugh-a-minute — star Lolita Lorre, bless her heart, has the funniest deliveries — however, trying to keep a straight face during his cinematic hot mess is impossible. Tom Holland‘s script was straight up murdered. Still and all, this is an entertaining disasterpiece that would have been an entirely different film had the original director, Richard Franklin, stayed on (rather than going off to direct Link).

The HD restoration of Scream for Help is available on Blu-ray from Scream Factory, but the digital version is standard-def.

Penumbra (2012)

Pictured: Penumbra (2012)

Directed by Ramiro García Bogliano & Adrián García Bogliano.

While it’s advised not to stare at the sun during the solar eclipse on April 8, fans of satirical horror are encouraged to give Penumbra, an Argentinian-Mexican film featuring an imminent solar eclipse, a watch. The unsubtle artwork suggests a straightforward survival story, however, the actual product is quite different and twisty. Cristina Brondo plays a prickly businesswoman who may have made her last sale; her new client has ulterior motives.

Surely some viewers will be put off by the protagonist of Penumbra, whose behavior in anticipation of the ominous eclipse is problematic. Yet, strangely enough, her being an imperfect victim adds something to the film, whereas a more pristine character would have made the whole experience less gripping.

Penumbra is currently available on AMC+.

Strange Nature (2018)

Pictured: Strange Nature (2018)

Directed by James Ojala.

For a less known eco-horror film to watch this Earth Day (April 22), Strange Nature tells its story with both urgency and force. Here, the late Lisa Sheridan (of FreakyLinks) played a struggling single mother looking into a local anomaly: mutated frogs. Soon enough, the cause of this abnormality extends beyond the water and creates other threats for the town’s human residents.

This truly indie production has its obvious limitations, yet the story — one based on a real life incident in Minnesota — and characters compensate for any visual flaws. The practical effects for the mutant beast are also admirable, given the meager resources available.

Strange Nature is currently streaming on Tubi.

No genre is as prolific as horror, so it’s understandable that movies fall through the cracks all the time. That is where this recurring column, Deep Cuts Rising, comes in. Each installment of this series will spotlight several unsung or obscure movies from the past — some from way back when, and others from not so long ago — that could use more attention.

Originally Published Here.

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