As of this week, Peacock, NBC’s foray into the streaming wars, is now available in the U.S., and unlike competitors Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, it just so happens to offer a free tier, something that immediately makes it worth considering. Along with a handful of original new series, Peacock arrives with a sizable library of classic content that you might want to revisit.
Peacock’s launched with a bevy of series based on classic books like Where’s Waldo, Curious George, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, along with Cleopatra in Space, an all-new series based on Mike Maihack’s comic about the teenaged Egyptian queen becoming involved in a space war.
But the vast majority of Peacock’s current offerings are older movies that are important parts of the pop culture canon—and now that much easier to stream to the device of your choice. Peacock’s overall library’s rather sizable, but these 10 films are a pretty good place to start.
Paramount’s pre-Hays Code adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland was a technological marvel for its time; watching it now, its practical limitations ultimately make its depiction of the young girl slipping through the looking glass that much more otherworldly and unnerving.
The impact of Béla Lugosi’s performance as Dracula is so significant that you can still see it in virtually every single vampire story that followed in the 1931 movie’s footsteps. Camp as the movie tends to read looking back on it now, the reverence director Tod Browning and screenwriter Garrett Fort had for Bram Stoker’s original novel shines through, and makes this film a classic.
“There can only be one,” could have easily been the tagline to a movie with no sense of imagination, but Highlander invited you into a world of a magically immortal Scotsman reaching the end of his road, fighting for his life, and having to consider what the meaning of his existence was. Highlander was the sort of movie that wanted you to think it had something profound to say, but really, it was mostly about cool sword fights.
In 2020, the original Jurassic Park really reads like a warning more than anything else. It’s difficult not to feel a sense of dread watching this quintessential summer blockbuster, because you know that the humans in that world are doomed to make the same ridiculously foolish, dinosaur-related mistakes, over and over again.
Part of the reason that there’s been such a sustained buzz around a potential new Spawn movie for so long is that the original film, strange as it was, really hit a nerve with fans of the original comics who wanted to see their twisted hero brought to the big screen in macabre detail. Storytelling-wise, Hollywood’s approach to adapting comic books has come a long way from Spawn, but the film holds up in terms of its understanding of how to strike a balance between the source material’s wildness and the groundedness needed for a film.
At a time when different species of animals across the world are taking back parts of the Earth that were gradually stolen from them by human encroachment, a movie like Hitchcock’s The Birds is both a horror and a reminder that our fears about nature getting its revenge are nothing new.
Terrifying as the recent Blumhouse reimaginging was, the original The Invisible Man from 1933 holds up (and then some) as a truly terrifying story about a deranged man whose ambition to take over the world is contrasted with what we might consider a relatively low-scale superpower.
The Matrix fundamentally changed the way a large chunk of the public felt about sci-fi movies, and its influence continues to be felt years later across a variety of different mediums. It’s a classic in the sense that it’s an essential part of anyone’s basic understanding of modern pop culture, which makes it a must-watch.
Part of what was so disappointing about the Dark Universe’s attempt at rebooting The Mummy was that the 1932 original created a perfectly solid template that the new film could and should have just followed with a few tweaks if it wanted to be a box office smash. Tantalizing as the idea of a connected universe of classic movie monsters is, some of the movies’ draw was always the lighthearted elements that sometimes popped up, which the 1999 movie understood and then some.
Children of Men’s a movie that people don’t talk about nearly enough when we discuss depictions of realistic doomsday scenarios. Its story—about a world on the brink of collapse due to the birth rate dropping to zero—works as the perfect setting to examine what the dark side of humanity could be like without needing to contrast it with some sort of supernatural or sci-fi threat like a zombie virus.
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