One of the more polarizing elements of horror is the use of gore. For some, gore detract from scares and atmosphere. For others, the more, the merrier. The bottom-line question is this; how much is too much, or is less more? Often, it’s how filmmakers approach the use of gore in the genre space that proves the most interesting. Excessive bloodshed, carnage, and viscera often underline the severe brutality of death; a no holds barred confrontation of mortality. Gore can be a great way to build suspense. At the opposite end of the tonal spectrum, gore enhances the humor in horror-comedies. Simply put, gore can be another valuable tool in a filmmaker’s arsenal in crafting horror.
This week’s streaming picks bring the gore in various ways, from unrelenting mayhem to hyper hilarity. All, of course, are available to stream now.
City of the Living Dead – Prime Video, Shudder
The Italian Godfather of Gore, Lucio Fulci, left an indelible mark on horror. Between his reputation for gore and his recent birthday, it seems appropriate to kickstart this week with the first entry in his “Gates of Hell” trilogy. The plot sees a reporter and a psychic try to close the gates of Hell before zombies invade Earth and render it an apocalyptic wasteland. With scenes that feature a woman barfing up her guts, well, it doesn’t get much more gruesome than this. Another reason why City of the Living Dead was selected; the two subsequent entries in the Gates of Hell trilogy, The Beyond and The House by the Cemetery, are currently available on Shudder. So consider this a three-in-one bonus.
I Saw the Devil – Crackle, Vudu, Pluto TV
South Korea has a reputation for brutal revenge thrillers, yet none hold a candle to the depravity and viciousness of Jee-woon Kim’s I Saw the Devil. The stakes are high, and a cat and mouse game between a serial killer and a secret agent hellbent on revenge gets downright savage. Visceral, gritty, and insanely bloody, this revenge thriller redefines the subgenre as well as what the pursuit of vengeance can cost. In this case, the price might very well be your soul. Powerful as it is bleak, expect a lot of soul-shaking brutalities, gore, and even a little cannibalism thrown in for good measure. For those that prefer their horror and gore with a hard edge, this is a must-watch.
Baby Blood – Kanopy
Well before the rise of New French Extremity horror, there was 1990’s bizarre Baby Blood. Yanka is a circus performer stuck in an abusive relationship until a strange snake-like alien parasite finds her and crawls into her uterus. It then demands that she embark on a murder spree, devouring the blood of her victims so that the parasite can be nurtured and grow. Throughout their extraordinarily bloody and violent journey, Yanka finds herself bonding with the creature inside her. Yes, this is essentially pregnancy horror at its most strange and revolting, but with a pitch-black comedic undertone. Baby Blood is as thoughtfully touching as it is gory, which is saying a lot.
Slugs – Prime Video, Tubi
An ‘80s creature feature about garden slugs doesn’t seem all that thrilling on paper, perhaps, but this one happens to be directed by Juan Piquer Simón, the madman behind Pieces. Throw in toxic waste, and the small town at the center of this movie becomes ground zero for a surprisingly gnarly siege of carnivorous little creatures. The deaths are gruesome, in the most entertaining way. Even better is how creative the kills can be, like a business meal that turns into a parasitic melt-down nightmare. If you’re the type that doesn’t prefer your gore to take itself too seriously, well, you know you can count on the Pieces director to bring the fun.
Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky – Fandor, Tubi
Though technically classified as an action-comedy, the level of blood-soaked violence on display is so over the top that it’s become widely embraced by genre fans. As it should be. Another Hong Kong Category III film from director Nam Nai-Choi (The Seventh Curse, available on Prime Video), you can expect gore levels that rival Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive (Braindead). After killing a crime lord responsible for murdering his girlfriend, Ricky is sentenced to ten years in a prison run by very corrupt people. The guards and officials in charge assume Ricky will bend to their will, but they don’t anticipate his superhuman strength and his rage. Insane, copious carnage ensues. It’s one of cinema’s greatest gore epics, as far as I’m concerned. If you need uplifting laughs this week, you’d be hard-pressed to find something better or more entertaining than Riki-Oh.