Five Great ’80s Creature Features to Stream This Week

The creature feature, at its most basic, is simply a horror movie in which a monster plays a prominent role as the primary antagonist; the term says it all. It’s the creature part that’s loose for interpretation, of course. A creature feature could be anything from carnivorous aliens from space to manmade monsters to genetically altered animals run amok.

This week’s streaming picks highlight creature features from the glorious age of practical effects: the ’80s. These five horror titles run the gamut in tone, style, and creature, showcasing just how nebulous and varied the creature feature can be. Whether you’re in the mood for quirky parasites with personality or lust that turns monstrous, these ’80s creature features go big on practical effects. Here’s where you can stream them this week.

For more Stay Home, Watch Horror picks, click here.

Alligator – AMC+, freevee, Night Flight+, Peacock, Prime Video, Shout TV, Shudder, Tubi


The plot, borrowing from a popular urban legend, follows a baby alligator flushed down the toilet. It winds up in the sewer, a local laboratory’s precise spot used as a dumping ground for growth hormones and waste. That cute baby alligator grows into a monstrous beast and wreaks havoc on the town. Only Robert Forster’s Officer David can stop it. From director Lewis Teague (CujoCat’s Eye), Alligator is legitimately good. It also earns major points for having the gall to kill a child in a suspenseful scene. And nothing beats the climactic wedding with a rampaging reptile.

Brain Damage – AMC+, Arrow Player, Fandor, Kanopy, Midnight Pulp, SCREAMBOX, Tubi

Brain Damage

Frank Henenlotter’s follow-up to Basket Case brought a much more effective anti-drug campaign than that of First Lady Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No, in the form of the pint-sized parasitic Elmer. Or Aylmer, for the initiated. When an older couple loses their ancient parasite in their apartment complex, it finds a home in Brian (Rick Hearst). More specifically, it attaches itself to Brian’s brain stem and injects its addictive blue liquid, sending Brian into a euphoria that he can’t get enough of. The only problem is that Elmer demands to be fed human brains in return. A phallic, quick-witted parasite voiced by John Zacherle combined with Henenlotter’s distinct style of horror comedy makes this oddball creature feature a winner.

Cat People – Criterion Channel

Cat People

Save for some very basic plot elements, the iconic pool scene, and subtle references; Cat People shares very little in common with the 1942 film it’s based (loosely) on. It’s not much of a remake, but more of a complete reinvention, written by makeup artist turned writer/director Alan Ormsby (Shock WavesPopcorn) and directed by Paul Schrader (First ReformedTaxi Driver). It follows Irena (Nastassja Kinski), who has arrived in New Orleans to reconnect with her brother Paul (Malcolm McDowell) after years of separation in the foster system. Paul reveals that the siblings come from a line of cat people, doomed to transform into beasts if they dare give in to their sexual desires. Irena doesn’t believe him until she finds herself falling for a zookeeper, and Paul ends up on a murderous spree. This update puts heavy emphasis on creature effects to highlight the monstrous nature of lust.

The Deadly Spawn – AMC+, Cultpix, Shudder

Deadly Spawn

Released in 1983 under the title Return of the Aliens: The Deadly Spawn in the hopes of luring audiences hopeful for an Alien sequel, this micro-budgeted labor of love charms with its DIY aesthetic. Think The Evil Dead gore meets 1950’s B-horror, in which a meteorite crash lands on Earth and unleashes a voracious man-eating alien upon a small town. It’s impressive in its ambition, especially for a group of amateur filmmakers, and has long since developed a significant cult following. It’s a creature feature that puts its creatures, and creature FX, first.

Scarecrows – freevee, Prime Video, the Roku Channel, Tubi

Underseen Creature Features - Scarecrows

Never mind the bizarre premise, in which a group of criminals hijack a plane and seek refuge on an abandoned farm. This creature feature begs the question, why aren’t there more horror movies about scarecrows? One by one, victims fall prey to terrifying scarecrows, rendered even more horrific by cool creature designs and effects by Norman Cabrera (Attack the BlockDrag Me to Hell). In a barebones story that doesn’t bother to explain its mythology, this one does the critical thing that matters most in a creature feature. It makes the monsters the centerpiece. It’s a creature feature that favors atmosphere and gory special effects, and that’s enough to ensure a good time.

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