10 of the best films to watch on Amazon Prime Instant Video

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amazon-instant-video-logoYes, there is so much choice for what to watch on TV these days – far too many good movies and TV shows. Amazon’s Instant Video streaming service has loads of good films – some you may have never come across yourself – and there’s even some decent TV on it, too. Pretty much everything on this list is worth a look, and everything here can be streamed by Prime subscribers (rather than rented or bought).

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ParaNorman
From Laika, the studio that brought us Coraline and the recent The Box Trolls, comes another stop-motion animated film that cleverly parodies the horror genre while lovingly paying homage to it. Loads of humour, beautiful animation and a clever story about Norman, a lonely little boy with the ability to talk to the dead…

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Adventureland
A relationship drama set in a theme park, director Greg Mottola (Superbad) has crafted a warm, funny and clever film that actually makes Kristen Stewart seem likeable. Jesse Eisenberg, Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader also star.

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Chronicle
A blend of found footage and mockumentary, Chronicle takes a smart look at the sort of things that would actually happen if three teenage boys had superpowers. Chronicle is not a hugely original story – the ground has been well covered before by comic books, and on TV andd the big screen – but the combination of first-time director Josh Trank’s imaginative use of the format, Max Landis’s witty screenplay and excellent performances from the three leads create a film that feels fresh and exciting.

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Timecrimes
Or Los cronocrímenes, as it’s known in it’s native Spain, Timecrimes is a time-travel tale (the title is a bit of a give-away) about a man who is accidentally sent back a few hours in time where he inadvertently runs into himself and… well, to say any more would spoil it. Just watch it – you’ll be glad you did. And if you’re keen on another very smart time travel caper when you’re done, give Primer a try – it’s also on Amazon.

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The Mist
When it comes to adapting Stephen King for the screen, nobody has enjoyed greater success than Frank Darabont. So it should come as no surprise that his visioning of King’s 1980 novella The Mist is about as faithful as a movie can be to the source material. For those not familiar with King’s story, it recounts the events resulting from the aftermath of a severe thunderstorm that hits the small Maine town of Castle Rock, which finds itself enveloped in a dense mist that brings with it a horde of mysterious and deadly creatures. The townsfolk stock up at a local supermarket for what at first seems like little more than a prolonged power outage and find themselves barricaded within as the creature-concealing fog rolls in. It’s scary, creepy and claustrophic … and do turn off the colour on your TV and watch it in black-and-white, as Darabont intended.

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Braindead
Before he embarked on his obsession with hobbits, New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson was best known for low-budget schlock horror. And the best of the bunch is Braindead (released as Dead Alive in the US), a 1950s-set zombie comedy in which the icky events are set off when an infected Sumatran rat monkey bites our hero, Lionel’s, mother. It’s very bloody, very gross and very, very funny.

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Behind the Candelabra
A made-for-TV HBO film, Behind The Candelabra examines the final decade of Liberace’s life – the film opens in 1977 and concludes with Liberace’s death from AIDS in 87. It uses many of the biopic tropes, while adding plenty of drama, humour and frisson. But more so than the story, this is an actors’ film, and the performances all round are outstanding – particularly from Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. Douglas has never been better and is spot on as the ageing entertainer who just wants to be loved.

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Casa de mi Padre
“If it sounds Spanish man, that’s what it is – a Spanish movie.” And so opens exactly that – a Spanish movie in a Mexican-Western setting, starring Will Ferrell. Who, for the record, does not actually speak Spanish. But he didn’t let that stop him making this hilarious (and very silly) comedy, which pokes fun at the typically over-dramatic and slightly dodgy Mexican telenovela-style of television.

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The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Prepare to be taken on a strange journey, as newly-engaged nerds Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) take refuge at the castle of mad scientist Dr Frank N Furter (Tim Curry) – a transvestite from the planet Transsexual, in the galaxy Transylvania –  during a rainstorm and get caught up in all sorts of sexually depraved goings on. Oh, and a touch of murder and cannibalism, just for fun. If you’ve never seen this utter delight (and why ever not?) then give yourself over to absolute pleasure. And even if you’ve already done the Time Warp again and again, dozens of times, isn’t it worth one more go round with Frank’s favourite obsession? (He’s been making a man, with blond hair and a tan … )

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The Evil Dead
When The Evil Dead was first unleashed on the world back in 1981, Stephen King dubbed it the most ferociously original horror film to come along in years. Now, more than 30 years later, it’s still more ferocious and more original than most of the horror films being released today. Five American college kids – three girls, two guys – head off to a cabin in the woods for a weekend. In the basement they find a strange book, covered in human skin, which turns out to be the legendary (and quite, quite evil) Book of The Dead. They also find an old reel-to-reel tape recorder, and when they play the tape, which contains incantations from the book, a bunch of nasty (and quite, quite evil) Kandarian demons are unleashed, and our heroes are possessed, one by one. Except for Ash (Bruce Campbell), who learns that the only way to get rid of the demons is bodily dismemberment. The Evil Dead is savage, gruesome (actually quite disgusting in places), scary and very, very funny – although not as funny as the two sequels it spawned, which were played more for laughs than this one was. It is, without a doubt, one of the best horror films ever made.

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Stuart O’Connor