Unstreamable is a column that recommends movies and TV shows you can’t watch on major streaming services in the United States. We publish every Wednesday.
Got a recommendation? Give us the scoop at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UNSTREAMABLE COMES TO THE BIG SCREEN!
Against all good sense and judgment, the Unstreamable crew will screen The Garbage Pail Kids Movie THIS FRIDAY, SATURDAY, AND SUNDAY @ Northwest Film Forum unless an act of god intervenes. Come on, take a whiff. Tickets are on sale now. We’re giving away GPK swag at every screening including a GPK Funko Pop, GPK tarot card deck, and a GPK R.L. Stine book 🙂
U.S.A., 1972, 91 min, Dir. Lee Frost
Happy October! Time for a gut-busting psychotronic classic. When people talk about the “Golden Age of Film,” it’s usually assumed they’re speaking about the halcyon days of auteurism & cinematic hedonism that is the 1970s. Early in that incredible decade, a small sub-genre of grindhouse movies was born, then quickly died when the public didn’t line up for blocks around the 42nd street exploitation theaters to catch a glimpse of a big guy with another guys head sewn onto his body!
In 1972, only a year after The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant showed what would happen if Bruce Dern sewed the head of an insane sex criminal onto what is basically a 6’5″ tall carbon copy of Lenny from Steinbeck’s Of Mice & Men, comes the exact same movie but with a white bigot’s melon (played by Ray Milland) getting stitched onto ex-NFL all-star, Brady Bunch co-star, and RFK assassin tackler Rosie Grier’s body in The Thing with 2 Heads!
In no way are either of these two gems easily defined as “good” but what they are “good at” is achieving some pure cinematic nirvana for anyone who has any interest in how movies work as art even when they aim so low they get dirt on the film print. Watching the filmmakers pull off shot after shot with the artifice that these two actors are bound at the neck is a true treat. No trick is untried, so much so that Georges Melies would be proud.
TTW2H, as the kids DO NOT call it, takes the de-noggin-ization and reattachment “trope?” and combines it with a black & white “can they get along long enough to figure who’s head has got to go?” movie that the whole family can, but probably won’t enjoy. Too many dummy heads to count, but when the whole frame is taken up by both actual actors smashing their faces up together, it’s ALMOST believable that they are truly attached at the collarbone. Funky clothes and soundtrack, a lengthy motorcycle chase, AND a 2-headed gorilla experiment only add to the ’70s spectacle. Finally a movie brave enough to ask, “Can white and black people put aside their differences and flourish?” Unfortunately the answer is no, if you sew them together at the neck. JAMIE HAN
Find it in the Psychotronic section under Mad Scientists.
USA | Italy, 1978, 127 min, Dir. George Romero
In George Romero’s 1978 classic zombie flick, the flesh-hungry undead overrun the world. Stephen, a TV newscaster, and his pregnant girlfriend, Fran, team up with SWAT officers Peter and Roger, escaping via helicopter to find safety. They end up taking refuge inside a mall, the heart of American consumerism. What delights me about Dawn of the Dead is that, over four decades later, the film still has genuine scares and gore—like zombies taking exuberant bites out of warm-blooded humans after suddenly, unexpectedly appearing in the twisty underbelly of a mall. And exploding heads!!! Even the silence in the film is haunting, as it can only stay silent for so long.
You can easily find Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake of the film, but Romero’s original is out of print here in the United States. And, before you ask, yes, we know you can watch unreliable rips of it on YouTube (which we don’t count as streamable for the purposes of this column*). While you might be able to get your hands on a copy of Second Sight’s limited edition discs of Dawn of the Dead, I’m crossing my fingers that the movie can get a proper U.S. re-release too. Richard Rubinstein permitting. If you have a real hankering to see this film on the big screen, Regal is doing a couple of screenings of the 3D edition of Dawn of the Dead at the end of the month. JAS KEIMIG
Find it in the Directors section under Romero, George.
United States, 1998, 86 min, Dir. Bret McCormick
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.
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
Find it in the Psychotronic Room.
Every week we feature on formerly unstreamable movie that’s now on streaming platforms.
United States, 1987, 97 min, Dir. Kathryn Bigelow
The vampires in Near Dark are far from the smooth, charming, sexy vampire trope most of us are familiar with. In fact, they couldn’t be more opposite. The coven of bloodsuckers we meet in the film are grimy, gnash their teeth, and have a penchant for covering their car windows in tin foil. But, above all, they are violently bored. Immortality has a way of doing that to you.
The film is a gritty horror-meets-western, taking place on the dusty plains of Oklahoma and Texas. It follows recently-turned Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) as he rolls with a cantankerous and irksome group of vampires, avoiding sunlight and looking for blood. It’s surprisingly graphic. The soundtrack is by Tangerine Dream, which adds a sort of Twin Peaks, synthy otherworldliness to all the bloodsucking. There’s also an earnestness about the story and performances that makes it special. Interestingly, a remake of the film was announced in 2006, but then canceled in 2008 due to similarities to another little vampire movie coming out that year. JAS KEIMIG
Find it in the Directors section under Bigelow, Kathryn. Also available to stream on the Criterion Channel.
Looking for more? Browse our big list of 350+ hard-to-find movies over on The Stranger.
The fine print: Unstreamable means we couldn’t find it on Netflix, Hulu, Shudder, Disney+, or any of the other hundreds of 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.