For many Open Culture readers, the Halloween season offers an opportunity — much less an excuse — to re-experience classic horror films: FW Murnau’s Nosferatu from 1922, for example, or even George Méli’s The Haunted Castle, which launched in all its forms in 1896. By the way, may we suggest a home screening of the ancient cinema great that is 1968’s The Astro Zombies? Written, produced, and directed by Ted Mikels—auteur of The Corpse Grinders and Blood Orgy of the She-Devils—the film features not only the “crazy astro-scientist” played by John Carradine and “two blood-crazed solar-powered assassins. zombie robots,” but “the bloody trail of the neighbor’s girl victim; Chinese communist spies; Mexico’s deadly undercover agent led by the ravishing Tura Satana” and the “intrepid CIA agent” in the case of it all.
You can watch The Astro Zombies for free, and freshly remastered in HD to boot, on Kino Cult, the new streaming site from film and video distributor Kino Lorber. Pull up the front page and you will be presented with a wide selection of tempting displays from various eras and subgenres: “Drive-in favorites” like Ape and Beware! Blob; “golden age exploits” such as Reefer Madness and She Shoulda Said ‘No’!; and even classics like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Stanley Kubrick’s Fear and Desire.
True cult movie buffs, of course, might head straight for the available options, grouped together, from Mario Bava’s “Master of Italian Horror” and prolific Spanish “B-movie” kingpin Jesús Franco. Those looking to make a spooky evening might consider Kino Cult’s proposed offerings under “boiled horror”: Killbillies, The House with 100 Eyes, Bunny: The Killer Thing.
Some of these photos skimp on the odd; even fewer skimp on humour, an essential ingredient in even the most gruesome horror films. Far from being a heap of cynical hackwork, Kino Cult’s library has clearly been curated with an eye on films that, while mostly produced on the cheap and with the unrelenting intention of provoking deep reactions in their audiences, hardly appeal to serious cinema. The site even includes an “art use” section that includes taboo-breaking works like Curtis Burz’s Summer House. Among his most recent general additions, you’ll also find Dogtooth by Yorgos Lanthimos, perhaps the most daring notorious provocateur currently working in the media. Since Kino Cult has made all of these films and more available for streaming at no cost, none of us, no matter our particular cinematic sensibilities, have any reason to spend this Halloween without entertainment — and rather, not bothered. Enter the collection here.
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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts about the city, language and culture. His projects include the newsletter Substack Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.