Tubi TV is a Netflix competitor that launched in Australia in 2019. It's completely free and 100% legal - you don't even need to give them your email. But there's a big catch: unlike the U.S. version, the local edition of the streaming platform only has access to a tiny amount of films from the big studios. Due to the huge number of Z-grade independent flicks like 'Shark Exorcist' and 'Thankskilling' (tagline: "Gobble, Gobble, Motherfucker") filling up the Australian content library, it is almost impossible to find any great films unless you know what you're looking for.
Yet, there are actually great flicks on Tubi TV... particularly if you're a fan of horror. After patiently scrolling through the catalogue, I found some by Italian auteur Dario Argento ('The Hatchet Murders', 'The Cat O' Nine Tails', 'Phenomena', and 'Two Evil Eyes') and a cool documentary about the "giallo" ('All the Colours of Giallo'), a horror subgenre of the '70s and '80s that has influenced everything from Nicolas Winding Refn's lurid 'The Neon Demon' to James Wan's bananas 'Malignant'.
If you're planning a horror movie marathon for Halloween and don't want to spend money on a subscription service, simply download the Tubi TV app on your Smart TV or phone and search for these classics (or click on the "WATCH" links below)...
A travelling circus arrives in a 19th-century Serbian town, intent on avenging the death of a horny vampire, killed by the villagers 12 years before. Young, who was directing for the first time, blew out his schedule by doing stuff like trying to get a tiger to sink its teeth into a fake human arm stuffed with pork. Hammer shut the production down and handed the footage to an editor, who was instructed to make a movie out of it. Despite the odds, 'Vampire Circus' is one of the best and sexiest Hammer Horror films.
Inspired by 'Les Diaboliques' and nominated as one of the greatest slasher films of all time by Complex magazine, the plot follows a group of sorority sisters being stalked during their graduation party after they conceal a fatal prank against their house mother. Featuring a psycho in a clown costume motivated by righteous revenge, the film can be seen as a forerunner for 'I Know What You Did Last Summer'. Rosman had previously worked as an assistant for Brian De Palma and the kill scenes have a slick Hitchcockian style.
Two filmmakers make a documentary about an online conspiracy theorist, only for their subject to suddenly vanish. They quickly tumble down the rabbit hole of ancient secret societies and shadow governments. If you want to experience the mindset of a conspiracy nutjob without reading the comments under every news article on Facebook, just watch this faux doco from Christopher MacBride (his second film, 'Flashback', was recently reviewed by Ashley).
One of the best American found footage horror movies, it focuses on another documentary crew. These guys are making a film about Deborah, an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease. As her grasp on reality slips, increasingly weird phenomena occurs . The film (and its infamous "snake" scene) was a springboard for Robitel, who went on to direct 'Insidious: The Last Key' and then created the 'Escape Room' franchise. It also tapped into themes later delved into by Australian director Natalie Erika James with 'Relic'.
Also known as "The Maddest Story Ever Told". Three children of the Merrye family live in a decaying rural mansion with their chauffeur (played by Lon Chaney Jr, who sings the goofy theme song over the title credits). He tries to keep the kids out of trouble since they suffer from a genetic affliction causing them to regress into feral madness. It's one of the earliest movies to feature a creepy inbred family of deviants, a precursor to Wes Craven's 'The Hills Have Eyes' and Rob Zombie's 'Firefly Trilogy', which includes '3 From Hell'. 'Spider Baby' is weird, horrifying and very silly.
Two families clash in the desert: one is a group of all-American vacationers, the other is a brutish tribe of cannibals. Class warfare ensues and Craven's film takes pointed jabs against American culture. He later made a sequel, 'The Hills Have Eyes II', because he desperately needed cash - it features a comical amount of flashbacks (even the dog has one) and is also available on Tubi TV.
A comatose young man in a private Melbourne hospital develops psychokinetic powers and becomes obsessed with a pretty nurse. The unsettling tone is helped by Robert Thompson's casting as Patrick, a bug-eyed weirdo with an unsympathetic backstory and a penchant for drooling and spontaneous erections. Franklin's film is considered to be one of the definitive examples of Ozploitation, the energetically trashy genre movies that Australia produced in the 1970s and '80s.
Sure, the film features Jamie Lee Curtis during her reign as Hollywood's Scream Queen and some stylishly directed Canadian slasher action. But the real reason to watch 'Prom Night' is the amazing disco soundtrack by Paul Zaza and Carl Zittrer and an incredibly long dance sequence set to an original song named after the film. 'Prom Night 2: Hello Mary Lou', a sequel in name only and with a supernatural angle, is also on Tubi TV - some argue that it's even better than the first film.
A successful children's author suffers a nervous breakdown and retreats to an isolated cottage where she is pestered by, amongst other things, her doppelgänger. Altman takes the audience for a trip to the lush Irish countryside with a main character who is frantically trying to distinguish imagination from reality. Even if you have zero idea about what is happening, 'Images' is worth it to watch Altman's only horror film, admire the beautiful cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond, and listen to a terrific score by John Williams (the composer behind the 'Jaws' theme).
Coppola described his first mainstream film thusly: "(Roger Corman) wanted it to be homicidal, sort of a copy of 'Psycho'. You know, gothic and psychological, with some kind of terrible knife-killing scene thrown in. So I wrote the script to order." Corman wasn't too pleased with the finished product and added a prologue, voiceovers and extra axe murders to Coppola's eerie black-and-white horror film. 'Dementia 13' has the sort of ripe Gothic atmosphere that Coppola wouldn't revisit until 'Bram Stoker's Dracula' in 1992 (a making-of documentary is also available on Tubi).
A woman inherits a hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana where a gruesome murder once took place. Unfortunately, it's also a gateway to hell. 'The Beyond' is tied with 'Zombi 2' as Fulci's best film, but where the latter features a zombie wrestling a shark, the former boasts a dislocated, dream-like atmosphere and solid acting, some signature Fulci eyeball trauma, and an outstanding soundtrack by Fabio Frizzi (Rolling Stone magazine ranked Frizzi's score the 11th-best horror film score of all time).
A nine-year-old girl living in a tight-knit New Jersey neighbourhood is killed on the day of her First Communion by a person wearing a translucent mask. The girl's father investigates and discovers a whole lot of repression and Catholic guilt simmering away in the working-class suburb. Disturbing and shockingly violent, the film was ranked the fourth-best slasher film of all time by Complex magazine.
A Beverly Hills teenager with an impressive mullet cut discovers that the social elite are gooey, incestuous, fleshy blob-like mutants (what 'Rick and Morty' would call "Cronenbergs") who literally drain the nutrients out of the lower classes. The body horror effects by VFX artist Screaming Mad George are truly wild (they won the Silver Raven award for Best Make-Up at the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film), particularly during a climactic orgy scene (inspired by Salvador Dali's painting 'The Great Masturbator') where the high-society freaks merge together into one huge organism.
When a supermarket is earmarked for closure, its employees stay back late at night to mark off all the stock. An unknown intruder soon begins killing them off with a selection of off-the-shelf items. The movie that influenced that breadslicer-to-the-face scene in 'Fear Street Part One: 1994' on Netflix, 'Intruder' not only features cameo appearances by Sam and Ted Raimi and Bruce Campbell, but it's written and directed by Scott Spiegel, the co-writer of 'Evil Dead II'.
People begin receiving mysterious voicemail messages from their future selves as they experience their own violent deaths. Miike's film picked up where Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 'Pulse' and Hideo Nakata's 'Ringu' left off, illustrating how technology can increase the feeling of isolation and anxiety in a big city, as opposed to bringing people together. It's a theme that filmmakers like Michael Beets ('In the Shadow It Waits') recently seized upon for their own COVID-19 era horror flicks. The sequels 'One Missed Call 2' and 'One Missed Call Final' are available on Tubi TV, too ... as well as Miike's brilliantly strange horror-comedy 'The Happiness of the Katamraris'.
A cult slasher with a script from two renowned writers (crime novelist Donald E. Westlake and Pulitzer Prize-nominee Brian Garfield), it stars Terry O'Quinn (Locke from TV's 'Lost') as an identity-swapping psycho obsessed with '80s-era American values search for the perfect family unit. The colder-than-cold opening, which sees the title character shedding his old identity along with his family, is hard to top.
After a demonic skull is unearthed by farmers in a field, the teenagers living in an 18th-century English village form a cult, start growing hair in strange places and (accompanied by a beautiful score by Australian composer Marc Wilkinson) get a little frisky in a ruined church. Along with 'The Wicker Man', Haggard's film helped kicked off the folk horror subgenre, which has been revived again with Robert Eggers' 'The Witch', Gareth Evans' 'Apostle', Thomas Clay's 'Fanny Lye Deliver'd' and Ari Aster's 'Midsommar'.
Ferrara worked some of his personal issues (namely heroin addiction and Catholicism) into the tale of Kathleen (played by Lili Taylor), a young philosophy student wandering the streets of Manhattan, drinking blood while writing her doctorate. Christopher Walken pops up as a vampire who is a big fan of William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch. "Burroughs perfectly describes ... what it is like ... to go ... without a face", he informs Kathleen in his Walken-esque staccato cadence. 'The Addiction' was nominated for the Golden Bear Award at the 45th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won the Blue Angel Award. Ferrara's first film, 'The Driller Killer', also available on Tubi TV, did not.
When Jodorowsky's planned adaptation of Frank Herbert's epic sci-fi novel 'Dune' collapsed, he quit directing films and was working as a comic book writer in France. His comeback was 'Sante Sangre', seemingly inspired by 'The Hands of Orlac'. It followed a disturbed young man (played by Jodorowsky's son) raised by a brutish knife thrower and a jealous aerialist in a Mexican circus. The documentary 'Forget Everything You Have Ever Seen - Jodorowsky and the Making of Sante Sangre' is also available on Tubi TV.
Before Bong Joon-Ho's 'Parasite', there was this low-budget New Zealand horror-comedy about a female petty criminal forced to live with her parents under house arrest. She gradually realises that she isn't the only unwelcome tenant. Inspired by films such as 'The Changeling' and 'The Legend of Hell House', Johnstone's film expertly juggles violence and humour. Unfortunately, it was eclipsed by 'What We Do In The Shadows', which was released in the same year. In a perfect timeline, 'Housebound' would have been the breakout hit from New Zealand in 2014 and we would never have been saddled with the oppressive whimsy of Taika Waititi.
Better known as 'Deep Red' or 'Profondo Rosso', this is Argento's finest film (it even tops 'Suspiria'). David Hemmings stars as a jazz musician who is chased through Turin by a black-gloved killer who thinks the hipster may have seen too much (not unlike Hemmings' character in Antonioni's 'Blow Up', released nine years prior). Argento uses saturated colours, close-ups and camera swoops, a score by Goblin, brutal killings and a creepy mechanized doll that inspired Billy the Puppet from James Wan's 'Saw'.
A Roman fashion house's models are picked off, one by one, by a killer in a featureless mask and fedora who wants to get his or her gloved hands on a mysterious diary. Named by Paste Magazine as its 28th Greatest Serial Killer Movie, Bava's film is one of the first (and arguably the most important) giallos - his use of vivid colour filters and focus on beautifully staged murder scenes (rather than unimportant junk like plot and dialogue) would become staples of the subgenre.
A newspaper reporter investigates a haunted videotape. 'Ringu' almost single-handedly launched J-horror, a renaissance of the horror genre in Japan. Sadako Yamamura, with her terrifying crawl out of a television set, became an iconic horror movie villain and popularised croaky, tangly-haired ghosts. The film also signalled a surge in horror filmmaking in East Asia (like the Pang brothers' 'The Eye') and a deluge of English language remakes (such as Gore Verbinkski's 'The Ring'). The sequels, 'Ringu 2', 'Ringu 0' and 'Ringu Spiral' are also available on Tubi, along with Nakata's 'The Complex'.
The pinnacle of '80s schlock and still the best-known film adaption of H. P. Lovecraft. Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs in an iconic role) is a medical student who invents a reagent that can reanimate deceased bodies. Hijinks ensue. 'Re-Animator' has delightfully over-the-top black humour, gratuitous nudity, fantastic practical effects and delirious gore. Gordon's 'The Pit & The Pendulum' and 'Castle Freak' are also available on Tubi.
A young director roams the streets of London with a portable film camera in the first movie to (in the words of Ghostface in Wes Craven's 'Scream 4') put the audience in the killer's POV. 'Peeping Tom' was released in 1960, when audiences were more uncomfortable watching the forbidden, so you can imagine the kind of moral outrage it stirred up. Almost two decades later, it was championed by Martin Scorsese, re-released, and is now considered a masterpiece. Powell's film was named the 24th-greatest British film of all time by Total Film magazine and the 10th greatest horror film of all time by The Guardian.
Honourable mentions: Be My Cat: A Film for Anne, American Mary, Tourist Trap, The Crazies, Baghead, Resurrection, Killer Nun, The City of the Dead, White Zombie, The Gorgon, The House on Haunted Hill, Premature Burial, The House That Dripped Blood, The Devil Bat, The Bat, The Power, The Last Man on Earth, Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated, Without Warning, Body Melt, The Tingler, The Giant Claw, Torso, One Dark Night, Whistle and I'll Come to You, Demon Seed, The Man Who Could Cheat Death, Lord of Tears, Head of the Family, Madman, The Evil Within, Jug Face, Dr Terror's House of Horrors, Tales From the Crypt, Basket Case.
Dishonourable mentions: Creature, Grizzly, Mikey, Demonic Toys, Mutant, Jack Frost, Two Thousand Maniacs.
Documentaries: Nightmares in Red, White and Blue; Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Lester's Island of Dr Moreau; Unearthed and Untold - The Path to Pet Semetary.
If you find any other cool horror movies on Tubi TV's Australian service that you think I should add to my watchlist, feel free to hit me up at @jakechatty on Twitter.