Set your expectations in advance: Death Drop Gorgeous is a micro-budget DIY slasher movie set in, and starring many of the denizens of, Providence, Rhode Island’s gay nightlife scene. As such, the camerawork and the sound are not as polished as in some of the films recommended here. But how many of those films have an extended, unforgettably gory set piece based around a glory hole? That’s right. None of them. With a cast loaded with charismatic performers (drag and otherwise), Death Drop Gorgeous is best enjoyed with a drink in hand and a smear of lipstick across your face.
Death Drop Gorgeous is available to rent as part of the Salem Horror Fest’s Weekend 1 package.

Joe Dante Tribute

Joe Dante
Joe Dante
Photo: Laura Burke Photography/Salem Horror Fest

The jewel in Salem Horror Fest’s celebrity crown for 2020 is its celebration of iconic horror director Joe Dante, who joins the festival for video panels commemorating the 30th anniversary of Dante’s hand grenade of a blockbuster sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, as well as the 40th anniversary of the somewhat less tongue-in-cheek but equally fun The Howling. Dante also appearance on the New Beverly Cinema’s Pure Cinema Podcast, where the filmmaker talks formative influences with hosts Elric Kane and Brian Saur. Also of interest: Andrea Subissati and Alexandra West’s breakdown of The Howling on their podcast Faculty Of Horror, and Goosebumps illustrator Tim Jacobus’ poster art for the occasion.

Salem Horror Fest’s Joe Dante tribute is available as a stand-alone package. Virtual VIP meet-and-greets (i.e., a private Zoom chat and an autographed poster) are also available.

The Strings

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Photo: Salem Horror Fest

Another slow-burn standout making its world premiere at Salem Horror Fest, The Strings begins with a young person—here, heartbroken musician Catherine (Teagan Johnston), reeling from the recent breakup of her band and her long-term relationship—going off to a remote cottage for some alone time. What’s distinctive about The Strings is that it focuses on Catherine’s creative process as much as it does the gradually building sensation that there’s something else there watching her, weaving them together with heady concepts from theoretical physics for a cerebral haunted-house tale with some genuinely heart-stopping moments. If you’re a fan of ambient dream-pop, the music is pretty good, too.
The Strings is available to rent as part of the Salem Horror Fest’s Weekend 1 and Weekend 2 packages.


Once you’ve burned through the academic offerings at Salem Horror Fest, the Miskatonic Institute Of Horror Studies, a leader in the field with branches in New York, Los Angeles, and London, has also taken its lectures online. Upcoming lectures include Monster, Vampire, Cannibal: Queer Horror & The Gothic and a timely exploration of masks in horror cinema from Australian scholar Alexandra Heller-Nicholas.

A Celebration Of Fantastic Fest

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Illustration: Fantastic Fest

Fantastic Fest was officially canceled this year—and if you’ve ever crowded into the lobby of the Alamo South Lamar in Austin on a Saturday during that particular festival, you’ll understand why. But during the last week of September—the traditional date for the in-person event—the Fantastic Fest programming team threw an abbreviated online event called “A Celebration Of Fantastic Fest” on the Twitch-esque screening app Scener.

The new films screened at the celebration have since disappeared into the digital ether (except for Queen Of Black Magic, which hits Nightstream this weekend). But parent company Alamo Drafthouse has kept a selection of repertory titles from Fantastic Fests past and present available for rent on the Alamo On Demand website, presented with the festival’s signature found-footage pre-shows, crowdsourced bumpers, and “Don’t Talk” PSAs.

Action USA

Over the years, the Alamo Drafthouse and its subsidiaries have carved out a very specific niche of what they sometimes refer to as “anti-human” action movies: low-budget direct-to-video ephemera that could have been made by aliens, so loose is their grasp on how human beings actually talk, think, and behave. Weave in ridiculously huge explosions, inept fight choreography, reckless endangerment behind the wheels of juiced-up ’80s muscle cars, maybe some ninjas, and voilà. Miami Connection and Dangerous Men are both classics of the subgenre, and Action USA, which made its world theatrical premiere at Celebration Of Fantastic Fest, is a worthy entry into this growing canon. A Lethal Weapon ripoff with some incredible location shooting at a Texas honky tonk circa 1989, it’s as American as blowing your fingers off with fireworks on the Fourth of July.
Action USA is available as a digital rental on Alamo On Demand. It makes its theatrical/virtual cinema debut at select Alamo Drafthouses on November 6, with a virtual expansion on November 13.

Daughters Of Darkness

Fifty years on, the psychosexual anxieties underlying Daughters Of Darkness should appear quaint. But the fear of female power is as potent (and intoxicating) in 2020 as it was in 1971. Just as heady but less stultifying than many Euro-vampire films of its era, Daughters Of Darkness isn’t the most coherently directed of movies. But it’s got sexual tension, sophisticated glamour, queer subtext, and chilling atmosphere to spare—and isn’t that what you want out of a film like this one? Romantic, melancholy vampires from Catherine Deneuve in The Hunger to Tilda Swinton in Only Lovers Left Alive owe a debt to Delphine Seyrig’s performance as Countess Bathory in this film, which premiered a ripe, decadent new 4k 16-bit scan restoration at Celebration Of Fantastic Fest.
Blue Underground’s 4k restoration of Daughters Of Darkness is available for digital purchase on Alamo On Demand, with a Blu-ray and 4k UHD re-release planned for October 27.

The Films Of Mickey Reece

Belle Île
Belle Île
Photo: Alamo Drafthouse

Fantastic Fest has been key to the modest ascent of Oklahoma City auteur Mickey Reece, alternately referred to in official press releases as “the Soderbergh of the sticks” and “flyover Fassbinder.” Reece, who’s made 36 films since 2008 with basically no money and a handful of trusted collaborators, first started to get national attention when his film Strike, Dear Mistress, And Cure His Heart played at Fantastic Fest in 2018. His latest, Climate Of The Hunter, screened at Fantastic Fest 2019 and is playing Nightstream this weekend; if you’d like to dig deeper into Reece’s oddball filmography, Alamo On Demand also has six of Reece’s more recent projects bundled together for a very reasonable $7.99 rental fee.
The films of Mickey Reece are available for digital rental or purchase on Alamo On Demand.

Triple Fisher: The Lethal Lolitas Of Long Island

Of the 16 recommendations in this guide, Triple Fisher: The Lethal Lolitas Of Long Island is the only one U.S. residents can’t rent right away with a credit card and a couple of clicks. But we’re putting it on your radar anyway—especially if your esoteric interests include true crime and trashy made-for-TV movies. A unique and ambitious use of the found-footage format, Triple Fisher takes the three made-for-TV movies about the Amy Fisher/Joey Buttafuoco case that aired in a single week in 1992 and combines them into one surprisingly easy to follow feature film. Drew Barrymore, Alyssa Milano, and Noëlle Parker play Amy in the respective tellings, each of which has its own ideas about what “really” happened. Juxtaposed in such close proximity, the shifting points of view start to reveal subtextual commentary on media spin and pop cultural misogyny, with some very silly callbacks (take the shouted line, “You can’t get herpes from a toilet seat!”) to keep things from getting too heavy.
Triple Fisher: The Lethal Lolitas Of Long Island currently has no VOD or festival dates planned following its screening at A Celebration Of Fantastic Fest. You can book it theatrically through AGFA.


As far as traditional streaming services go, it’s hard to beat the Criterion Channel’s ’70s Horror block for the October season. Blending arthouse horror chills and and lowbrow exploitation kicks, highlights of the eclectic 28-film set include the atmospheric Let’s Scare Jessica To Death and the shocking The Witch Who Came From The Sea alongside better-known titles like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Black Christmas, Rabid, and The Wicker Man.