If you are an Amazon Prime subscriber you are automatically able to stream thousands of films through Amazon Prime Video. A number of apps are available on mobile devices, game consoles and set-top boxes – or you can directly stream from Amazon’s website. What is common to all these options is a menu system which offers a series of recommendations based on your watch history and other categories such as genre. When searching, titles are listed based on a default “recommended” category, which tends to favour popular films – you will see fairly mainstream fare.
However, browsing using the website and using other options such as the ability to order by “latest arrivals” – or just scrolling through the thousands of results leads to some treats hidden away from the casual viewer. Those interested in more obscure, cult, exploitation and world cinema would be recommended to spend some time in the lower reaches of the menus – there are some surprising, strange and delightful rewards in store. Here are a few of my discoveries.
[Note: this is the UK store – other stores may differ and the US store, for example, has many more titles. Also, titles come and go as and when streaming rights expire or are renewed.]
A number of titles from art-house darling Jim Jarmusch are available, including Dead Man, Down by Law, Stranger than Paradise, Only Lovers Left Alive and Mystery Train.
There are a large number of Spaghetti Westerns, including titles from respected directors such as Sergio Martino, Sergio Garrone and Duccio Tessari, starring the likes of Giuliano Gemma, Klaus Kinski and Anthony Steffen. A whole host of Django and Ringo sequels!
Cult horrors including Jim Wynorski’s Chopping Mall, Bob Clark’s Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things, Don Dohler’s Nightbeast and a whole host of films from Troma.
Horror and exploitation from around the world: Mystics in Bali (Indonesia), The Killer Reserved Nine Seats (Italian giallo), Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch (Japan), Bedevilled (South Korea), El Camino de los Espantos (Mexico) and World of Crooked Mirrors (Russia).
Also heavily represented is the Italian cop movie genre of the 1970s, known as Poliziotteschi, with a number of classic titles featuring Maurizio Merli, John Saxon and Henry Silva, from directors Umberto Lenzi and Fernando di Leo. Accompanying these is the feature documentary Eurocrime! which does a great job of explaining the genre and interviewing surviving participants. Highly recommended.
And there’s more: lots of obscure martial arts films, weird curios such as the Italian Blue Lagoon/cannibal film mashup Blue Paradise, Errol Morris’ documentary Tabloid, Hong Kong action and horror such as City on Fire, Black Magic and Hex, not to mention the astounding Mighty Peking Man.
Though some of these films may be available on youtube a large number appear to have been properly mastered – with some even in HD. I suspect that a number of these have been licensed from companies which have bought packages for future release on DVD and bluray (indeed a number of the HK horrors have recently been released by 88Films here in the UK), but a large amount of the above are not currently available on any home format in the UK.